Meaning, Definition and Types of Social Stratification

Brahmins were once given a high level and Shudras were given a low level. In sociological language, this process is called social stratification.

Meaning of Social Stratification

In every society, a person or group is given high or low status on the basis of his caste, age, gender, occupation, position, rights and responsibilities etc. Take your Hindu society for example. In this, Brahmins were once given a high level and Shudras were given a low level. In sociological language, this process is called social stratification.

Meaning, Definition and Types of Social Stratification

Definition of Social Stratification

1. According to the sociologist Gisbert, “Social stratification refers to the system of dividing society into certain permanent groups and categories under which all groups and categories are bound together by relations of superiority and subordination.”

2. According to Moore, “Stratification is that orderly division of society in which the whole society is divided into some higher or lower social units.”

3. According to Sutherland and Woodward, “Stratification is simply the process of differentiation in which some individuals have a higher status than others.”

Types of Social Stratification

There are mainly two types of social stratification– Caste-wise and Class-wise.

# Caste Stratification:- Determining the social status of an individual or group on the basis of caste is called caste stratification; For example – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.

# Class Stratification:- Dividing people into higher or lower classes on the basis of their qualifications, skills, rank, rights and duties etc. is called class stratification; For example, keeping IPS officers at the highest and soldiers at the lowest level on the basis of the post.

Bases of Social Stratification

There are many bases of social stratification, such as caste, age, sex, occupation, economic status, position, rights and responsibilities, ability, skill and education. Every society, according to its social values, circumstances and needs, makes social stratification on any of these particular grounds. For example, in closed (conservative) societies the status of an individual is often determined on the basis of caste, gender and occupation and in open (progressive) societies on the basis of education, ability, skill, position, rights and responsibilities. Here some of the main bases of social stratification are briefly described-

(1). caste

There are some societies in which the social status of an individual or group is determined on the basis of their caste i.e. birth. In ancient India the whole society was divided into four classes- Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. But even then the position of a person within a particular Varna was determined on the basis of his age, ability and success.

(2). Age

In almost all societies, young people are considered more experienced and capable than children, adults are considered more experienced and capable than adults, and the higher the age, the higher the position is given in the society. Even today, in our caste societies, the elderly enjoy a high social status.

(3). Sex

In some societies social stratification is also done on the basis of gender. But on this basis only two classes are formed in the society. The status of any man or woman in the society is decided on the basis of his caste, age, ability, skill, occupation and prosperity etc.

(4). Occupation

In some societies, some occupations are considered high and some are considered low. considered high. This is the reason that here people engaged in high professions are given a high position in the society and those engaged in low occupations are given low.

(5). Economic Status

Today, in almost all societies, whatever may happen in theory, but in practice it is seen that the social status of an individual or group in them is determined on the basis of its economic status. Neither caste nor business asks for rich people.

(6). Post, Rights and Duties

Shakti has always been worshipped. The more power in the hands of a person or group in society, the higher the position he gets. The higher the position of a person in the society, the more rights he enjoys and the more responsibilities he is loaded with, the higher the position he is given in the society.

(7). Knowledge and Competency

The present era is the age of science and experts. Today, in the progressive societies of the world, the social status of a person is determined on the basis of his knowledge, ability, skill and his specialty in a particular field. In open societies, those who make scientific inventions, innovate in their respective fields and do responsible work in high positions in administration get the highest position.

(8). Education

In almost all societies there are two classes- educated and uneducated and in every society educated people are given higher position than uneducated, and even among the educated the more educated he is given the higher position in the society. And the second thing in this context is that only through proper education a man increases his ability, increases his skill, attains high positions. Then it would go without saying that education is the basic basis of social stratification.

Education and Social Stratification

Generally there are two types of societies - closed societies and open societies. The basic basis of social stratification of closed societies are caste, age, sex and occupation, whereas in open societies, education, ability, skill, position and rights are. If seen carefully, then through education, ability and skill develop in a person and only after getting higher education, a person attains high position. Thus education is the basic basis of social stratification in today's open societies. In this context, education today performs two functions- first the end of closed societies and secondly the creation of progressive societies.

(1). The end of closed societies by education

Conservative societies based on caste and religion are called closed societies. As education is spreading in the society, these orthodox societies are coming to an end. Take our Indian society for example. It is based on caste and religion till date and in this the Brahmin is given a high position and the Shudra is given a low position from birth. But as the mass education is spreading, the superstitions prevalent in the society are coming to an end. Not only in our country, but in the whole world, the hold of caste and religion is getting loose and the importance of person's ability and skill is increasing.

(2). Building Progressive Societies by Education

It is possible to remove the society from the circle of conservatism through mass education, but it cannot be made a progressive society. For building a progressive society, along with mass education, vocational, scientific and technical and administrative education is required. Today almost all the societies of our world are trying to arrange this type of education and through education their nature is becoming progressive and in these societies individual social stratification is being done on the basis of their merit and position.

Functions of Social Stratification

Structural functionalists argue that social inequality plays a vital role in the smooth operation of a society. The Davis-Moore thesis states that social stratification has beneficial consequences for the operation of society. Davis and Moore argue that the most difficult jobs in any society are the most necessary and require the highest rewards and compensation to sufficiently motivate individuals to fill them.

Certain jobs, like mowing grass or cleaning toilets, can be performed by almost anyone, while other jobs, such as performing brain surgery, are difficult and require the most talented people to perform them.

In order to lure the most talented people away from less important work, a society must offer those people rewards and incentives. Davis and Moore further claim that any society can be equal, but only to the extent that people are willing to let anyone perform any job. This would also require that even those who do their job poorly are rewarded equally.

Effects of Social Stratification

Social stratification is the main reason for relational set of inequalities in economic, social, political and ideological dimensions. It is a system whereby people rank and evaluate each other. On the basis of such evaluation, one is rewarded with more wealth, authority, power and prestige.

It is broadly organised into three parts: upper class, middle class and lower class on the basis of power and wealth. This has resulted in the creation of a number of levels within our society.

Social stratification causes social disparity and many problems as it is an unjust system with monopoly of power and wealth in a particular group. It affects life chances, lifestyles and prestige. It creates emotional stress and depression for the people belonging to lower social stratum as they have unequal access to wealth, power and prestige.

It creates a huge gulf between the people in terms of their incomes and a range of measures associated with social position, education, health, and psychological well-being. It is distinctly perceived that disparity causes chaos in society. These are the stumbling blocks in the way to progress and development of the country.

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