Types of Social Stratification | Forms of Social Stratification
What is Stratification
stratification stands for the arrangement of people in a society into various layers on the basis of social status. The term stratification was originally derived from geology. In geological terms 'stratum' means layer and 'strata' means layers. The term stratification refers to the structure of earth in terms of its natural properties as revealed in its crests or layers. Social sciences have borrowed this term and applied it to the arrangement of people in society.
Groups in a society are arranged in hierarchy depending upon its rank. All the people who occupy the same status within a society occupy a single stratum. Status and stratum are interlinked. Stratum is divided into units. Stratum implies equality, strata refers to inequality.
Stratification is a universal phenomenon, it occurs in every society. It rests on both social and psychological characteristics. Stratification is socially patterned or based on collective elements. It is governed by norms and sanctions. Social stratification has its own mechanisms of socialization. It is not static but dynamic. Stratification is a product of history. All strata in a society are articulated in a systematic way with their function.
Forms of Social Stratification
Social stratification assumes different forms in different societies on different criteria. These forms are slavery, estate, class and caste.
Slavery is the earliest form of social stratification. It is the legally recognized division of society into slaves and citizens. Citizens have the citizenship rights whereas the slaves doesn’t have citizenship rights. It existed in most of the parts of Europe and other ancient nations between 500 BC to 600 BC.
Estate is a later form of social stratification. Estates were owned by the feudal. They were established in the Europe in seventh century and they lasted into the sixteenth century. Estates include serfs and clergy. Serfs are the commoners and clergy comprises the feudal.
Social class had its origin in the feudal estates of Europe. Classes are the consequences of economic factors. According to Marx the ownership of the means of production is the crucial factor that shapes the class system. Those who own the means of production like land and capital, form one class and those who do not, form another class. Marx believe that throughout human history only two classes have appeared, those are Lord - Slave in ancient society, Landlords - Peasants in feudal and agrarian society and Bourgeois - proletariat in capitalist industrial societies.
Max Weber disagreed with the Karl Marx. According to him there are more than two classes. He said that class system emerges when economic status, social status and political status and political power converge into what he called Status Crystallization.
Caste is the social stratification which exists only in India. It is a system of classification which states that a person born into a particular position in a society and that no action on his/her part in raise or lower that position. The term caste is derived from the Portuguese word ‘casta’ which means a group. When an individual born into a caste he remains to be a member of the same caste forever, it is an ascribed group. Each caste has a name and is endogamous, the membership is by birth. Castes are arranged in hierarchy and each caste have a fixed occupation.
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