Social Stratification

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Social stratification Pages: 17 (852 words) Published: May 5, 2015

Presenter Ms. N. Lewis

What is social Stratification?
 This

refers to the ranking of social groups

according to one or more criteria deemed
important to society.
 The

ranking indicates that some groups have

more and others have less of what society
values- for example, money, power and

Types of stratification Systems
There are two types of stratification systems:
1. Closed system of stratification
2. Open system of stratification

Closed System of stratification

A closed system is a rigid system with clearly
demarcated boundaries
Social statuses are strictly defined and determine
access to opportunities
Social position is ascribed at birth
There is no social mobility from level to the another.
An example of a closed system of stratification is the
caste system in India. People are born into a caste
and this determines one’s occupation, social
interaction, power and education. No amount of
achievement can change a persons caste.

Open System of social Stratification

An open form of social stratification is based primarily
on economic criteria, particular income.
Social position is achieved through one’s efforts
The boundaries between classes are more flexible
than with the closed system.
There is opportunity for social mobility, as individuals
can move up or down the class system and therefore
their status can improve or decline.
The class system in modern industrial society is the
best example of an open stratification system.

Social stratification Under Slavery
 Whites

were never apart of the lower class; only
white indentured servants stained their class
 Persons of mixed ancestry and lighter colour skin
were the most fortunate by virtue of their
 Some were rewarded with lighter domestic duties.
 The coloured group acted as a buffer zone
upholding white values and thus did not want to
risk their privilege in society.

Social Stratification Under Slavery
 The

Plantation System was a closed system

of stratification based on the ascribed criteria
of race and colour.
 Race

and colour was tied to one’s occupation

in society.

Social Stratification in the Caribbean
 The

social structure of the caribbean has
been greatly influenced by colonialism and
 Ascriptive factors such as race, class and
colour determined the status and life
chances of Caribbean people.

Race Stratification- M.G. Smith

Smith argued that most societies in the caribbean
are plural where there exist significant diversity and
race antagonism.
Smith argued that the different ethnic or cultural
groups in the Caribbean practiced distinctive forms
of the same institutions in society. For example, in
Trinidad the Hindus have a distinctive marriage
practice of “bamboo wedding.” Neither whites nor
blacks perform these social institutions along the
similar lines.

 For

Smith societies such as Trinidad, Guyana
and Jamaica has a closed system of
stratification that ensured limited social

Criticisms of Smith
The main criticisms of Smith are summarized below:

Caribbean societies have evolved into class societies and not cultural blocks as Smith’s model suggests.


Many critics argue that education has been the main
equalizer in society


The rise of the local intelligentsia comprises of member from both African and Indian.


The extent and degree of conflict that Smith articulated based on culture and diversity is exaggerated. In fact, in many of the

Social Stratification in Trinidad and
Tobago- Lloyd Braithwaite

He observed that the social structure in Trinidad was
founded on ascriptive- particularistic basis. It was
thus based on the positive evaluation of the white
groups in society and negative evaluation of the...
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