The functional theory of stratification advanced by Davis and Moore attempts to explain
the universality and the necessity of inequality in societies with a complex division
of labor, a task that is independent of efforts to explain the division of labor
itself or the intergenerational perpetuation of inequalities along family lines.
The theory is so general, however, that it excludes none of the Utopian models of
"classless societies" proposed by Western thinkers and, its critics to the contrary
notwithstanding, says nothing whatsoever about the range of inequality and the determinants
of the range in concrete societies. The theory appears to understate the degree to
which positions are inherited by failing to view societies in long-range historical
perspective. In common with the arguments of its critics, it also ignores the possible
disruptive consequences of mobility and equality of opportunity, a theme notably
neglected by American sociologists.