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Types of Social Stratification | Forms of Social Stratification

Updated on March 17, 2014

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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      Chaithra kotian 8 days ago

      It is very helpful for me.. And easy to understandable thank you....

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      Juliana 4 months ago

      Thanks for the information

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      victor 9 months ago

      i really enjoyed reading this ... nice piece . simple and concise

      i actually love the topic ''social stratification''

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      Anif 10 months ago

      Helpful work but expound more on the estate type of stratification that's if possible.

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      Boaz 13 months ago

      very helpful............................

    • profile image

      Ash 15 months ago

      It is very helpful for me thnxx a lot

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      mike 15 months ago

      the article hsas been very helpful.especially marx's idea.

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      baby lovely 18 months ago

      thank u so much it is very helpful for me

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      luoga 20 months ago

      caste system is not good due to its segretive nature to its people

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      savita 2 years ago

      very useful to me

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      Siddhartha GHANTY 2 years ago

      Very much helpful for exam and it's clearly explained. Thanks!

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      Egwin Yim 3 years ago

      Reliable piece

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      barbie 3 years ago

      thanx a lot it has realy helped me

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      steve 3 years ago

      its really educative n underst


    • profile image

      Anastasia 3 years ago

      very useful info, thanks

    • profile image

      Aqib 4 years ago

      thanx it is undrstndable

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      meki rebecca 4 years ago

      as much as we have to agree that social stratification exists, there are some members of the society who are being oppressed with this fact such as the workers working for capitalists with social stratification they are not given the chance to talk aloud their pressing issues....

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      janet james 4 years ago

      Tnks vry mch it really hlp mi wif ma assignmnt...unical studnt

    • profile image

      amit kumar 4 years ago

      thank u so is very helpful for me.

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      payal dubey 4 years ago

      thanks! this has been very helpful for my exam as well as my assignment.

      also easy to understand the meaning of s .s

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      Francesca 5 years ago

      Thanks! This has been very helpful for my assignment on stratification :)

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      D'souza 5 years ago

      amazing piece of writing.,... waahh!

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 7 years ago from India

      Robwrite and christopheranton thanks for your comments..

      Robwrite, yes, Social stratification is something that should fade from the modern world.. that's right and christopheranton's reply here is giving a true fact, Any time that people have tried to change that, it either hasn't worked, or society has come to grief. Thanks again for the comments.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      We have always been a heirarchical species. Any time that people have tried to change that, it either hasn't worked, or society has come to grief.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 7 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Very informative. Social stratification is something that should fade from the modern world.