Social Stratification Summary
Social stratification is the division of large numbers of people into layers according to their relative power, property, and prestige. It applies to both nations and to people within a nation, society, or other group. Social stratification affects all of one's life chances from the access to material processions to their position in society to their life expectancy. Although they may differ as to which system of social stratification they employ, all societies stratify their members. The four major systems of social stratification are slavery, caste, estate, and class. Slavery is defined as a form of social stratification in which some people own other people. It has been common in world history with reference to slavery being made in the Old Testament, the Koran, and Roman and Greek history. Slavery was usually based on debt, as a punishment for a crime, or a matter of conquest. Racism was not associated with slavery until southern plantation owners developed a new ideology to justify their enslavement of Africans in the 17th century. Today, slavery is known to be practiced in the Sudan, Mauritania, and the Ivory Coast. The caste system is a form of social stratification based on ascribed status that follows an individual throughout their life. India provides the best example of a caste system. Based on religion, India's caste system has existed for almost three thousand years. Although the Indian government formally abolished the caste system in 1949, it still remains a respected aspect of Indian tradition and is strictly followed by a significant portion of the population. During the middle ages, Europe developed the estate stratification system. In the estate system there were three groups, or estates. These were the nobility, clergy, and commoners. In the last system, social stratification is based on the possession of money or material possessions. A major characteristic of the class system is that it allows social mobility,...
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