What is social stratification? What is the major form of stratification system? What are its salient features? (AMIE S05, 11, 12, 13, W09, 11, 13, 14, 10 marks)
Social stratification is a horizontal division of society into “higher” and ‘lower” social units.
Raymond W. Murray
No society is Unstratified.
Types of Social Stratification
Important Feature of Social Stratification
- Inequality or Higher-lower positions Social Stratification involves division of society into several layers which stand hierarchically placed in social relations. While some positions or levels carry more rewards, more privileges, more respect, and these are considered to be at higher levels; others enjoy lower positions and status. In this way, stratification acts as a source of social inequality which is, however, deemed to be natural and essential for orderly, systematic and healthy social life.
- Social Stratification is a Source of Competition Stratification leads to the emergence of several levels in society. The persons belonging to higher levels are conscious of their higher positions and they try to maintain and improve these. The persons belonging to lower levels always try to secure higher positions. This gives rise to social competition which acts as a means of social progress.
- Every Status has a Particular Prestige Associated with it Every social position and status is associated with a particular prestige. However, this difference has to logical. It is not to be based on evil practices like casteism, religious superstitions and rituals. In ancient India, the class of Brahmins used to enjoy a superior position by birth and because of the supreme importance is given to religious ceremonies. However, with the passage of time, the faith in the superior position of Brahmins got greatly diluted. Now persons belonging to other classes have also secured higher positions in society. Every social class is now entitled to a life of dignity and respect.
- Stratification Involves a Stable, Enduring and Hierarchical Division of Society Stratification leads to a very stable, enduring hierarchical and quite permanent division in society. The division between the two classes of rich and poor has been continuously present in every society In India, caste-based social stratification has been so strong that it even continues to survive today. Caste-based stratification has been very rigid and permanent and a person belonging to one caste can never join another caste.
- Different Statuses are Inter-dependent Social stratification involves the division of society into several classes and statuses. Each status or class enjoys a particular position in the social hierarchy. However, all the statuses are related and interdependent.
- Stratification is based on Social Values In every society, the system of social stratification is based on social values and traditions. In India caste has been the main basis of social stratification. However, western societies class has been the basis of social stratification. The class-structure in every society is in turn based upon the prevailing social values.