Social Stratification

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Caste Pages: 14 (4458 words) Published: February 17, 2011
1. Social stratification
2. Characteristics of social stratification
3. Origins of social stratification
4. Social stratification in Bangladesh
5. Religious stratification In Bangladesh
6. Caste systems among Hindus
7. Caste systems among Muslims

All societies arrange their members in terms of superiority, inferiority and equality. The vertical scale of evaluation, this placing of people in strata, or layers is called stratification. Social stratification is a natural and voluntary separation according to race, religion, social and economic status. In sociology, social stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of social classes, castes and strata within a society. Anthony Giddens has defined social stratification as “the existence of structured inequalities between groups in society, in terms of their access to material or symbolic rewards”. According to F.R. Khan, “Social stratification is the division of society into groups or categories linked with each other by the relationship of superiority and subordination.” According to Peter Saunders, in modern Western societies, stratification depends on social and economic classes consisting of three main layers: Upper class, Middle class and Lower class. Each class is further broken into smaller classes relating to profession. Again, according to Karl Marx, in capitalist society, stratification depended on two layers: 1. Bourgeois or Capitalist class

2. Proletariat or lower class.

Characteristics of stratification:

1. It is social.
2. It is universal.
3. It is diverse in form
4. It is ancient
5. It is consequential

Origins of social stratification:
There are two main theories concerning the origin of social stratification: 1. conflict theory
2. functionalist theory

Social stratification in Bangladesh

It has its roots in the past. Society in Bangladesh in the 1980s was not rigidly stratified; rather it was open, fluid and diffused, without a cohesive social organization and social structure. Social class distinctions were mostly functional. Although the dynamics of religion largely shaped the context of the development of social stratification in Bangladesh, the relevance of economic, political, cultural, urban and rural, gender issues is no less significant. This paper mainly focuses on the religious stratification in Bangladesh.

Religious stratification in Bangladesh
Religious Stratification is the division of a society into hierarchical layers on the premise of religious beliefs, affiliation, or faith practices. According to Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E. Moore in their article Some Principles of Stratification, “The reason why religion is necessary is apparently to be found in the fact that human society achieves its unity primarily through the possession by its members of certain ultimate values and ends in common.” Furthermore, Davis and Moore contend that it is “the role of religious belief and ritual to supply and reinforce this appearance of reality” that these “certain ultimate values” have. This is one possible explanation for why religion is one of the underlying factors which links various forms of inequality into a chain of stratification. Nearly 83 percent of the population of Bangladesh claimed Islam as its religion in the 1980s, giving the country one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the world. Some British colonial administrators first pointed out that the Muslim social stratification was patterned after the Hindu caste system. Sources indicate that the castes among Muslims developed as the result of close contact with Hindu culture and Hindu converts to Islam. When Hindus converted to Islam, they often did not adhere completely to Islamic principles, retaining many Hindu practices with them. One of these Hindu characteristics was the caste. Still social hierarchy among Muslims of Bengal was less pronounced. Some believed that the majority of the...
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