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Davis-Moore thesis

Definition of Davis-Moore Thesis

(nounTheory asserting that stratification and inequality are necessary and beneficial to society to motivate individuals to train for and perform complex roles.

Example of Davis-Moore Thesis

Etymology of Davis-Moore Thesis

Davis-Moore Thesis Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /deɪvɪs mʊ(ə)r ˈθisᵻs/
      • /deɪvəs mɔ(ə)r ˈθisᵻs/
    • British English
      • /deɪvɪs mʊə ˈθiːsɪs/
      • /deɪvɪs mɔː ˈθiːsɪs/
      • /deɪvɪs mʊə ˈθɛsɪs/
      • /deɪvɪs mɔː ˈθɛsɪs/
  • Syllabification: (da·vis moore the·sis)

Usage Notes

  • The Davis-Moore thesis is a functionalist theory that contends society is a meritocracy and rewards people for their efforts and abilities through mobility and monetary rewards.
  • The Davis-Moore thesis is still contested in the social sciences and referred to as the Davis-Moore debate.
  • Also called:
    • Davis-Moore hypothesis
    • Davis-Moore theory
    • Davis-Moore theory of stratification

Related Quotations

  • “If the rights and perquisites of different positions in a society must be unequal, then the society must be stratified, because that is precisely what stratification means. Social inequality is thus an unconsciously evolved device by which societies insure that the most important positions are conscientiously filled by the most qualified persons. Hence every society, no matter how simple or complex, must differentiate persons in terms of both prestige and esteem, and must therefore possess a certain amount of institutionalized inequality” (Davis and Moore 1945:243).
  • “In 1945 Davis and Moore, following an earlier formulation by Davis, proposed a functional theory of stratification that was intended to account for what they contended was the “universal necessity” for social inequality in any social order. Beginning with an article by [Melvin] Tumin in 1953, the Davis-Moore theory elicited regular analysis, commentary, criticism, and debate through the 1970s. Although professional work on the theory has largely ceased since the late 1980s, the Davis-Moore theory remains perhaps the single most widely cited paper in American introductory sociology and stratification textbooks and constitutes “required reading” in hundreds, if not thousands, of undergraduate and graduate courses throughout the United States” (Hauhart 2003:5).

Additional Information

  • Word origin of “thesis” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
  • Abrahamson, Mark. 1973. “Functionalism and the Functional Theory of Stratification: An Empirical Assessment.” American Journal of Sociology 78(5):1236–46. doi:10.1086/225429.
  • Bershady, Harold J. 1970. “On Davis and Moore Again, or Dissensus and the Stability of Social Systems.” The British Journal of Sociology 21(4):446–54. doi:10.2307/588499.
  • Betz, Michael, Kemp Davis, and Patrick Miller. 1978. “Scarcity, Income Advantage, and Mobility: More Evidence on the Functional Theory of Stratification.” Sociological Quarterly 19(3):399–413. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.1978.tb01184.x.
  • Davis, Kingsley, and Wilbert E. Moore. 1945. “Some Principles of Stratification.” American Sociological Review 10(2):242–49. doi:10.2307/2085643.
  • Kimberly, James C. 1970. “The Emergence and Stabilization of Stratification in Simple and Complex Social Systems.” Sociological Inquiry 40(2):73–101. doi:10.1111/j.1475-682x.1970.tb01003.x.
  • Hauhart, Robert C. 2003. “The Davis-Moore theory of Stratification: The Life Course of a Socially Constructed Classic.” The American Sociologist 34(4):5–24. doi:10.1007/s12108-003-1013-y.
  • Huaco, George A. 1966. “The Functionalist Theory of Stratification: Two Decades of Controversy.” Inquiry 9(1–4):215–40. doi:10.1080/00201746608601459.
  • Panayotakis, Costas. 2014. “Capitalism, Meritocracy, and Social Stratification: A Radical Reformulation of the Davis-Moore Thesis.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 73(1):126–50. doi:10.1111/ajes.12068.
  • Wanner, Richard A., and Lionel S. Lewis. 1978. “The Functional Theory of Stratification: A Test of Some Structural Hypotheses.” Sociological Quarterly 19(3):414–28. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.1978.tb01185.x.

Related Terms


References

Davis, Kingsley, and Wilbert E. Moore. 1945. “Some Principles of Stratification.” American Sociological Review 10(2):242–49. doi:10.2307/2085643.

Hauhart, Robert C. 2003. “The Davis-Moore theory of Stratification: The Life Course of a Socially Constructed Classic.” The American Sociologist 34(4):5–24. doi:10.1007/s12108-003-1013-y.

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005.  A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Cite the Definition of Davis-Moore Thesis

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “Davis-Moore thesis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved October 19, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/davis-moore-thesis/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

Davis-Moore thesis. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/davis-moore-thesis/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “Davis-Moore thesis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed October 19, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/davis-moore-thesis/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“Davis-Moore thesis.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/davis-moore-thesis/>.