Type: Classification Essays
Sample donated: Krista Bailey
Last updated: September 26, 2019
Inevery society people differ on the basis of sex, age, cultural background,economic status, etc. Thus human society is not homogeneous but heterogeneous.Human beings apart from being differentiated based on natural criteria, are alsodistinguished by their social and cultural background. Women’s work isdifferent from men. Peoples occupation differ from one another, right fromprimitive society, we have people occupied in food gathering, fishing, hunting,etc. In tribal society, one clan differs from the other because of theirassociation with a different totem.
SocialStratification is a societies categorization of people into socio-economicstrata, based on their occupation and income, wealth and social status orderived power both social & political. It is a relative positioning ofpeople in a social group, category, position or region. Thus we can say thatsociety is divided into various ‘layers’ from which we get the word ‘strata’.In this classification of society, the social strata is continuously changing andwe find unequal distribution of goods and privileges in society.
There is aranking system which seems to divide society on various social criteria, namelycaste, class, creed, financial status, occupation etc. For example, rich peoplecan afford expensive education, gadgets, housing, luxury goods, etc. Whereasthose who are economically poor, don’t have access to all the above and areoften left to fend with the left overs. Socialstratification can also be understood as a social hierarchy. In our societytoday we have a hierarchical system like the upper, middle, lower middle andlower class of society. These distinctions are brought about in the society asa whole and not an individual. InIndia where we have a prominent caste- divided society, people inherit anacquired status wherein they are born in a certain stratum of society.
The Brahminsare considered to be on the top and hold the highest rank in society. The Shudrasare at the bottom rung of society. The privileges that each one enjoys greatlydiffer from each other. In fact, the shudras are deprived of most privilegeseven today. Their access to education, housing, jobs, temples etc. arerestricted even today. They werebasically considered to be impure and are not allowed to mix with mainstreamsociety.
Thus we see a dimension that is unhealthy for the growth of the Indiansociety. Socialstratification is thus a type of social inequality. There are social groupswhich rank higher than the others with the amount of wealth, power and prestigethat each stratum possesses. Those belonging to a particular stratum sharecommon interest and lifestyle; this distinguishes them from the others andgives them a certain identity in society. Socialstratification can now to be considered to be a universal phenomenon becausethe differences of wealth, power and prestige now exist in all types of socialgroups. Primitive societies may be exempt because even though there may existamong them social inequalities; these inequalities were mainly based on naturalcriteria, e.
g. sex, age, etc. In tribal society, women were not allowed certainduties which only men could perform, etc.
VIEWSOF KARL MARXForKarl Marx, society is divided into two main social categories where oneexploits the other. There are those who are the owners of technology and valuedgoods, the capitalist and industrialist, who control the means of productionand are considered to be the bourgeoisie (aristocracy) of society. On the otherhand, there are those who have no ownership of land, technology and valuedgood. They usually work for the aristocrats for a meager wage. They could beconsidered the proletariat of society. For both these categories, Marx uses theword ‘class’ which comprises ownership and non-ownership.
For Marx those who own the means ofproduction also exercise political and economic power. This leads toexploitation of the ‘service class’ who are often subdued and remain always atthe lower rung in society. VIEWSOF MAX WEBERMaxWeber has made a big contribution to our understanding of socialstratification.
While Marx has stratified society based on ‘class’, Weber addstwo more categories, namely, ‘status’ and ‘power’. For Weber, people possess certain skills, e.g.engineering, medicine, etc which have high market value.
Those who have suchskills have better ranks in society than those who are semi-skilled. Thus Weberrejects the idea of the ruling class of Marx. Alsoevery individual occupies a certain social status based on his situation ofinteraction in society. With everysocial position, one plays a particular role. This would be an action that oneis expected to perform in a given position. For e.
g. a man may be a manager inthe bank but when he comes home, he plays the role of a loving father whichgreatly differs from the role of manager of a bank. These statuses can beascribed by facts related to birth or it can be achieved through one’s efforts.One becomes a Brahmin because he is born into a Brahmin family, whereas onebecomes a Manager by his education qualifications, skills, efforts to gothrough tough competition to get the job, etc.
Because of the wayour society is setup there is scope of social mobility. Social Mobility is theability to move up or down or sideways within this social stratificationsystem. It provides for movement within society and keeps the society moreflexible and open to changes.
There is upward mobility where you move upwardsor downward mobility where you slide downwards. There is alsointer-generational mobility that takes place between generations andintra-generational mobility that occurs with the generation themselves.