What is Social Stratification? Details information about Social Stratification.

 Definition :-

The division of society into layers or divisions depending on many characteristics, such as wealth, power, occupation, education, and social standing, is known as social stratification. It is a system that assigns ranks to people or groups, with some enjoying greater rights, access to more resources, and greater opportunities than others.

The majority of human communities are characterized by social stratification, which can take many various forms. The following are the main types of social stratification:


The unequal allocation of resources, power, and opportunities depending on gender is known as gender stratification. In various areas of society, including education, work, and political engagement, it frequently leads to women being at a disadvantage and being marginalized in comparison to men.


Some societies, especially those in South Asia, have a strong caste system. It is a tradition that categorizes people into different castes or social groupings based on where they were born. Caste, which is frequently linked to strict hierarchical rules and social segregation, influences one's social rank, occupation, and interactions with others.

Race and Ethnicity:-

Racial and ethnic variables may have an impact on social stratification. In some countries, there may be differences in the treatment and access to resources, opportunities, and social privileges for particular racial or ethnic groups.


Economic considerations like wealth, income, and occupation are the basis for class stratification. It divides people into social classes such the upper class, middle class, and lower class, with each having varying degrees of access to resources and power.

Characteristics Of Social Stratification:-

People's lives are significantly impacted by social stratification, which may contribute to existing social injustices. It may have an impact on people's ability to obtain healthcare, education, employment, political influence, and general quality of life. The degree and kind of social stratification varies between societies, with some being more egalitarian and others being more hierarchical.

It's includes fallowing characteristics

Hierarchical Structure :-

Social stratification refers to the hierarchical organization of people or social groups. It creates a hierarchy in which certain people hold positions of more authority, privilege, and access to resources, while those in lower positions have less access to these benefits.


Class, race, gender, and ethnicity are some of the overlapping characteristics that have an impact on social stratification. These variables interact and cross paths, resulting in intricate networks of advantage and disadvantage. Due to the combination of social identities they hold, people experience stratification in different ways, which is highlighted by intersectionality.

Social Differentiation :-

Social stratification is the process of dividing society into distinct social groups or categories according to a variety of factors, including social position, money, occupation, and other factors. These groups serve as the foundation for classifying people into various groups and establishing their social standing.

Social Mobility :-

Although social mobility is restricted in social stratification, there may still be some mobility. The term "social mobility" describes how people and groups move up and down the social ladder. It is possible to acquire it through things like education, employment, entrepreneurship, or marriage. Social mobility prospects and their scope differ between societies, nevertheless.

Persistence and Stability:-

Social stratification frequently lasts a long time and resists change. Once established, it frequently endures through many generations via a variety of mechanisms, including inheritance, socialization, and structural elements. People's chances for success in life are significantly influenced by the roles they are given at birth or are allocated to.


The allocation of resources, opportunities, and rewards is greatly distorted by social stratification. While people in lower positions endure relative deprivation and limited social mobility, those in higher positions typically have more wealth, better education, higher social prestige, and more powerful networks.

Cultural and Ideological Justifications:-

It is common for social stratification to produce cultural and ideological systems that support and uphold the current social order. The ideas, norms, values, and beliefs that support and legitimize society's hierarchical structure can be found in these systems. Examples of beliefs that can be used to support inequality and people's positions within the social hierarchy include the meritocracy and divine right theories.

Types of Social Stratification :-

Depending on the particular standards used to classify people or groups, social stratification can take many different shapes. The following are some prevalent forms of social stratification.

Gender Stratification:-

Gender stratification is the term used to describe the unequal distribution of resources, power, and opportunities among men and women. It includes many facets of society, such as social roles, employment, political engagement, and education. The gender salary gap and the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles are just two examples of the gender-based injustices that are perpetuated by gender stratification.

Age Stratification:-

The partition of society into different age groups is referred to as age stratification. Generational inequality can result from it when resources are allocated and treated differently based on age. In areas including education, employment, healthcare, and social welfare programmer, age segregation is evident.

Sexual Orientation Stratification:-

The differential treatment and social standing of people depending on their sexual orientation is known as sexual orientation stratification. Stratification based on sexual orientation may occur for LGBTQ+ people due to discrimination, stigmatization, and limited access to rights and resources.

Estate/Feudal Stratification:-

Historically, agricultural societies were characterized by estate or feudal hierarchy. It involves a three-tiered organization made up of the clergy (religious authority), the ruling class (land-owning elite), and the commoners (peasants and serfs). Based on land ownership, this form of social stratification frequently entails hierarchical connections, with the nobility controlling the labor and resources of the lower classes.

Caste Stratification:-

There is a lot of caste stratification in some countries, especially in South Asia. It is a hereditary system that categorizes people into different castes or social groupings based on where they were born. Social status, employment, and social relationships are all influenced by caste. Endogamy (marriage within one's caste) and restricted mobility across castes are frequent components.

Class Stratification:-

Economic considerations like wealth, income, and occupation are the basis for class stratification. It divides people into social classes, such as the rich elites in the upper class, the professionals and managers in the middle class, and the working-class and poor people in the lower class. Class stratification frequently reflects differences in resource access, educational attainment, and power.

Race and Ethnic Stratification:-

The division of society based on racial or ethnic features is referred to as race and ethnic stratification. Different racial or ethnic groups experience differences in access to opportunities, resources, and social standing as a result of this type of stratification. It frequently leads to bias, discrimination, and unfair treatment.

Theory of Stratification:-

The sociological theory of social stratification, also referred to as the theory of stratification, aims to provide light on the causes, dynamics, and effects of social inequality and stratification in society. Different sociological angles present various stratification hypotheses. Three popular theories are listed below:

Conflict Theory:-

Karl Marx had an impact on the conflict theory, which sees societal stratification as the result of interpersonal conflict and the exploitation of one group by another. Conflict theorists contend that social inequality results from the unequal distribution of opportunities, resources, and power, with the dominant group controlling the subordinate groups. They place emphasis on how social class and economic ties contribute to the maintenance of social stratification.

Symbolic Interactionism:-

The emphasis of symbolic interactionism is on how social interactions and symbolic meanings influence stratification. Max Weber and Erving Goffman, among other academics, have contributed to this viewpoint. Symbolic interactionists place a strong emphasis on how people's social positions and identities, as well as the meanings associated with social rank, wealth, and prestige, are produced via everyday encounters. Additionally, they emphasize the significance of social mobility and the irrational sense of stratification.


The functionalist viewpoint sees social stratification as a necessary and useful aspect of society, and it is often connected with sociologists like Talcott Parsons and Emile Durkheim. Functionalists contend that social disparity has a significant role in preserving societal stability and order. They contend that stratification is based on merit and that the unequal distribution of incentives encourages people to play distinct roles and make specialized contributions to society.

These ideas provide several perspectives on the root causes and effects of social stratification. Conflict theory emphasizes the power dynamics and exploitation connected to stratification, while functionalism emphasizes the benefits of inequality. The subjective feelings and meanings connected to social situations are highlighted by symbolic interactionism. These theories are frequently combined by sociologists to develop a thorough knowledge of social stratification.

Examples of Social Stratification:-

Many societies around the world have social stratification as one example. Here are a few illustrations:

Stratification of Classes in Capitalist Societies:-

Based on wealth, income, and occupation, there is a clear class stratification in capitalist civilizations like the United States. The upper class is made up of wealthy people and families who have access to large financial resources, privileges, and power. Professionals, managers, and skilled employees make up the middle class, whereas low-income people who frequently work in low-skilled or precarious professions belong to the lower class.

South African apartheid:-

From 1948 to 1994, South Africa's apartheid government imposed a strict racial stratification. The system, which divided people into racial categories including White, Black, Coloured, and Indian, institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination. It led to enormous differences in living standards, access to resources, and political power, with the majority of Black people experiencing systemic oppression and the White minority enjoying privileged position.

Mediaeval European Feudal Stratification:-

Feudal stratification was common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. The nobles (a land-owning elite), clergy (religious authority), and serfs (peasants) made up the hierarchy of society. Serfs served as laborer and were bound to the land while the nobles held authority and owned land. Significant disparities in wealth, social standing, and access to resources were brought about by this system.

Hindu caste system:-

India is known for having a caste system that has influenced its culture for many years. People are divided into various social groupings, or castes, by the caste system, which has historically been based on birth. Each caste has its own set of social roles, mandated jobs, and interactional guidelines. There have historically been large inequities, little social mobility, and prejudice against lower castes as a result of the caste system.

These are only a few illustrations of social stratification structures that have existed or do so in various countries. It's crucial to keep in mind that social stratification can take different forms and be more extreme in different cultures, historical eras, and socioeconomic conditions.


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