Characteristics of Social Stratification




Characteristics of Social Stratification:

1. It is Social:

Stratification is social in the sense that it does not represent inequality which is biologically based. It is true that factors such as strength, intelligence, age, sex can often serve as the basis on which status is distinguished. But such differences by themselves are not sufficient to explain why some statuses receive more power, property, and prestige than others.

Biological traits do not determine social superiority and inferiority until they are socially recognised. For example, a manager of an industry attains a dominant position not by physical strength, nor by his age, but by having socially defined traits. His education, training skills, experience, personality, character, etc. are found to be more important than his biological qualities.

2. It is Ancient:

The stratification system is very old. Stratification was present even in the small wandering bands. Age and sex wear the main criteria of stratification. The difference between the rich and poor, powerful and humble, freemen and slaves was there in almost all the ancient civilisation. Ever since the time of Plato and Kautilya social philosophers have been deeply concerned with economic, social, political inequalities.

3. It is Universal:

Social stratification is universal. The difference between rich and poor, the ‘haves’, or ‘have noted’ is evident everywhere. Even in non-literate societies, stratification is very much present.

4. It is in diverse Forms:

Social stratification has never been uniform in all societies. The ancient Roman society was stratified into two strata: the Patricians and the Plebians. The Aryan society was divided into four Varnas: the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Sudras, the ancient Greek society into freemen and slaves, the ancient Chinese society into mandarins, merchants, Farmer, and soldiers. Class and estate seem to be the general forms of stratification found in the modern world.

5. It is Consequential:

The stratification system has its own consequences. The most important, most desired, and often the scarcest things in human life are distributed unequally because of stratification. The system leads to two kinds of consequences: (i) Life chances and (ii) Lifestyle.

Life chances refer to such things as infant mortality, longevity, physical and mental illness, marital conflict, separation, and divorce. Lifestyles include the mode of housing, residential area, education, means of recreation, the relation between parent and children, modes of conveyance, and so on.

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