Social injustice, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination are something that has been going on in our society from long time. We as a society have always ranked our own people with a set of bars. Some of which are based on reality and some on a half-truth. Whilst, it seems fun for some people what we don’t realize is the impact it may have on them. This stratification has created a negative impact on people. Also has created a huge gap between people be it socially, culturally, or economically. This gap only seems to widen over the years. Lately, acceptance brings us to our topic that is social stratification still relevant today?
WHAT IS SOCIAL AND GLOBAL STRATIFICATION?
Social stratification is when society sort people into different order. Be it on basis of their income, race, caste, gender, age, or any other refined factor. As the name suggests it is the division of people into different strata. Stratification of society seen all round our past, be it as simple or complex society or ancient or modern society. It’s always been on the basis of the higher and lower classes of our society. Social stratification is the division of society. It splits society into different layers. As well said history teaches us and help us predict the future. From our past, we can make out how we have never been in a society with no division. Sorokin once said, “Unstratified society with real equality of its members is a myth which has never been realized in the history of mankind”.
Even the smallest and simpler communities witness stratification which might be distinct on the basis of age or gender. In our own country India, our society was stratified into four parts- Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. This classing was based on the type of job performed by people. In ancient Greece, the Greeks were split into three distinct social classes- Native Spartans, free foreigners, and helots. These systems evolved and further changed into 4 classes- Athens (the upper class), Metics (the middle class), Freedmen (the lower class), and slaves.
Also in ancient Rome, we can see social stratification where hierarchy is split into six parts- The emperor, senators, equestrians, plebeians, freedmen, and slaves. All these are examples of global hierarchy which shows how our society has been classified from the very start.
TYPES OF STRATIFICATION
As we came across how society is split into various parts due to multiple ground and types. Some of these are age , caste , class , cultural , dominance , elite , and religious hierarchy . As the name suggests age stratification means how society divides on basis of the age of people living in it. Caste stratification is the division of society according to the caste of people living in it. Cultural stratification is grouping people on the basis of their culture. Similarly, religious stratification is the division of people on the basis of their religions.
As humans, we all belong to some age, gender, culture, race, or religion and therefore the stratification continues. However, over the years some experts really dwelled into the social hierarchy and separate society into four systems of stratification- slavery, estates, caste, and class.
The term “slave” stands for “a person whom the law and/or morals consider the property of another person.”. Estates have been classified in feudal systems, majorly in Europe within the Middle Ages. They are more flexible than the caste system and allowed mobility. In this system, people were classified on the basis of their birth, military strength, and land ownership. India followed the caste system. Wherein people were stratified on basis of their caste which was based on their job. Class stratification is the one most common in modern society. Here people somehow get classified on the basis of their class i.e. according to their wealth, income, and powers.
WHAT ARE THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES?
There are three key principles principles of social stratification.
- Social stratification is a trait of society and not just a reflection of individual differences. All the contrast are common among a set of people which in turn divide the whole into different sections. A single person cannot be responsible for it. Hence it is said to be a trait of society.
- It is not something that goes on for a phase. Social stratification carries over years after years. As history is the proof we can conclude how social stratification is something that has been going on for the longest time and it is something that carries over from generation to generation even though it has evolved.
- Social stratification is something that’s universal but variable. This means that differences and prejudice in our society are pervasive. It is universally present. As we discussed in global stratification we realize how it’s present everywhere and hence is universal. However, in different countries, the type of social stratification varies. Hence we can say that social stratification is universal but variable.
ISSUES OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION
Division of very own society has always led to so many issues. Since people rank and evaluate each other, it creates inequalities and imbalance in our society. It might make one far more superior than the other. This may lead to internal wars between different groups of people. This is very dangerous for the peace and harmony of the people. Besides then creating physical inequality is, it also creates social and mental disparities. People who are evaluated below in the hierarchy might face mental issues and might give them a sense of inferiority.
Also to mention that when this keeps on going for a very long time this keeps increasing. This widening the gap between the higher class and the lower class. This is because if the higher class earns more, they are more likely to be literate and more likely to earn high. Whereas the people who belong to lower classes barely earn and are unlettered and therefore cannot earn in the future. In this way, it keeps widening the gap between the higher and lower classes where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.
Also to mention that this social division might lead to unequal and unfair distribution of chances. This might be harmful as it might easily give the opportunity to those who do not deserve it and might not to the one who truly does.
IS IT STILL RELEVANT TODAY?
From the entire article, we can sense if our society is progressing, social stratification still exists. Even today it is very much relevant. Our society still believes in the caste system and it is still very much considered in India. Even if we try to abolish each and every part of social stratification, the division still won’t die. This is because if not caste our society will divide itself on the basis of income, class, or wealth.
Something that we must focus on is how social stratification affects the life chances and lifestyle of people. It also creates this huge emotional stress on the people in the lower order making them feel insufficient and inferior. We cannot completely abolish it but what we can do is to make sure that it does not exceed a limit where it becomes impossible to stop it.