Social Stratification

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Social stratification Pages: 7 (2490 words) Published: August 5, 2013
Looking at society critically enables one to see that it has been divided into groups based on power, wealth and status .People of the same fashion are seen to get along, and People of the same occupation are found associating with each other even students are associating with each other. From the above example it can be seen that society classifies people on the basis of social status. Social status is the position occupied by individuals or groups in relation to other individuals in society (Harris and Scott, 1997:28). Therefore the essence of this essay is to critically analyze social stratification as well as compare and contrast the; Class, Colourbar and Caste systems of social stratification, a brief description of these systems will be given. Additionally, the essay will indicate the advantages and disadvantages of these social systems of social stratification to development. Finally, the conclusion will be drawn based on the analysis of this essay. The word Stratification is derived from the word ‘stratum’ which is a geographical word meaning a layer of rocks of which each layer lies between similar layers of different texture. Sociologists use the term to describe a hierarchical ordering of people or groups as though they were arranged in horizontal layers, one above the other. There are many definitions of Social stratification. Among comprehensive definitions is the one propounded by Shaefer (1997), who defines it as a structural ranking of entire groups of people that perpetuates unequal economic rewards and power in society. It is a concept used by sociologists to describe inequalities that exist between individuals and groups within human societies. It means that people exist in layers of prestige, power and wealth. It can also be defined as a structural ranking of people that perpetuate unequal economic rewards and power in society. Social inequality is an inevitable result of social stratification, in that certain groups of people stand higher in society, control scarce resources, yield power and receive special treatment. Therefore, a stratified society comprises of members who are either Rich or Poor, Powerful or Powerless, High or Low (Kerbo and Harold 1991). According to Bendix (1961:21),”social stratification is the ranking of units in a social system in accordance with the standards of common value system. Social stratification is a universal concept except that it varies from society to society. This means that the hierarchical arrangement takes place in all societies in the world but the criteria used differs from society to society. This is simply because every society has its own norms and values hence different culture. For instance, most African societies value marriage or family life while European or American societies encourage working towards the obtaining of wealth. The different values and cultures differentiate societies. Subsequently, in some societies, age and sex are used as systems of social stratification. Nevertheless, the most commonly used systems include the Class, Colourbar and Caste systems (Ibid). The class system is called the open system. This system is so open that people who gain schooling and skills may experience social mobility. This system was propounded by Karl Marx and Max Weber. In this system, social mobility drives class distribution. It is based on achievement rather than ascription. The system rests on talent, opportunity and effort unlike the Caste system which ascribes status at birth. In the Class system, careers are an issue of individual choice and not moral duty. In addition, individual freedom is allowed in the selection of marriage partners (De Beer, F and Swanepoe, 2000). Social mobility is simply the movement of individuals or groups of people from one social position to another. People are able to change position by gaining or losing wealth, prestige and power. Upward mobility refers to movement up the social ladder while downward mobility refers to...

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