Social Stratification

Sun, 07/28/2013 - 03:04 -- Umar Farooq

All societies show some system of hierarchy whereby its members are placed in positions that are higher or lower, superior or inferior in relation to each other. The term stratification has been borrowed from Geology where in soil is composed of different layers each one is called a stratum—the earth surface is consisting of various strata, each of which is distinct from the other.  Society, similarly consists of several layers of certain criteria according to which they have been categorized.

Social Stratification Definition

Social stratification is a concept that refers to “the division of a population into two or more layers, each of which is relatively homogeneous and between which there are differences in privileges, restrictions, rewards and obligations”.

Each society, thus construct a vertical evaluative scale in terms of some high stratum people, some low stratum people and so on.  Those in the top stratum, have more prestige, powers, preferential treatment than those below and each lowering stratum possess less of these attributes than those above them. social stratification in the united states as well as in other countries is noticable issue.

Sociologists speak of social stratification to describe social inequality among individuals and groups within human societies. Often we think of stratification in terms of assets or property, but it can also occur on the basis of other attributes, such as gender, age, religious affiliation, or military rank. The three key aspects of social stratification are class, status, and power (weber, 1947). Although they frequently overlap; this is not always the case. The “rich and famous” often enjoy high status; their wealth often provides political influence and sometimes direct access to political power. Yet there are exceptions. Drug lords, for example, may be wealthy and powerful, yet they usually enjoy low status.

On the other hand, when Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948, his total worldly possessions could be carried in his blanket. Although he chose to live in poverty, he enjoyed the highest status and power in India.

Individuals and groups enjoy unequal access to rewards on the basis of their position within the stratification scheme. Thus, stratification can more simply be defined as structured inequalities among different groupings of people. Sociologists believe that these inequalities are built into the system, rather than resulting from individual differences or chance occurrences, such as winning a lottery. It is useful to think of stratification like the geological layering of rock in the earth’s surface. Societies can be seen as consisting of “strata” in a hierarchy, with the more favored at the top and the less favored nearer the bottom.