Social StratificationCasteClassRaceSubmitted to:Mr. Renjith R.School of Social Work,Marian College,Kuttikkanam.Submitted by:Bimal Antony,1stMSW,School of Social Work,Marian College,Kuttikkanam.Date of Submission:10thNovember 2010.
IntroductionSocial Stratification can be said as the hierarchical arrangement of individuals intodivisions of power and wealth within a society. Caste, Class, Estate acts as tools forstratification. Stratification derives from the geological concept of ‗strata‘ which means layers,created by natural processes.Definitions―An arrangement of any social group or society into a hierarchy of positions that areunequal with regard to power, property, social evaluation and psychic gratification.‖:- Melvin TuminOrigin of Social StratificationAs societies evolved and became more complex, they began to elevate some members.All societies stratify their members. A stratified society is one in which there is an unequaldistribution of society‘s rewards and in which people are arranged hierarchically into layersaccording to how much of society‘s rewards they possess.Hunting and Gathering SocietiesHunting and gathering societies had little stratification. Men hunted for meat whilewomen gathered edible plants, and the general welfare of the society depended on all itsmembers sharing what it had. The society as a whole undertook the rearing and socialization ofchildren and shared food and other acquisitions more or less equally. Therefore, no groupemerged as better off than the others.Horticultural, Pastoral, and Agricultural SocietiesThe emergence of horticultural and pastoral societies led to social inequality. For the firsttime, groups had reliable sources of food: horticultural societies cultivated plants, while pastoralsocieties domesticated and bred animals. Societies grew larger, and not all members needed to beinvolved in the production of food. Pastoral societies began to produce more food than wasneeded for mere survival, which meant that people could choose to do things other than hunt foror grow food.Division of Labor and Job SpecializationDivision of labor in agricultural societies led to job specialization and stratification.People began to value certain jobs more highly than others. The further someone was from actualagriculture work, the more highly he or she was respected. Manual laborers became the leastrespected members of society, while those engaged in ―high culture,‖ such as art or music,became the most respected.
As basic survival needs were met, people began trading goods and services they couldnot provide for themselves and began accumulating possessions. Some accumulated more thanothers and gained prestige in society as a result. For some people, accumulating possessionsbecame their primary goal. These individuals passed on what they had to future generations,concentrating wealth into the hands of a few groups.Industrialized SocietiesThe Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the mid-1700s, when the steamengine came into use as a means of running other machines. The rise of industrialization led toincreased social stratification. Factory owners hired workers who had migrated from rural areasin search of jobs and a better life. The owners exploited the workers to become wealthy, makingthem work long hours in unsafe conditions for very low wages. The gap between the ―haves‖ andthe ―have-nots‖ widened.The Improvement of Working ConditionsBy the middle of the 1900s, workers had begun to secure rights for themselves, and theworkplace became safer. Wages rose, and workers had something they had never had before:buying power. They could purchase homes, automobiles, and a vast array of consumer goods.Though their financial success was nothing compared to that of their bosses, the gap between thetwo was narrowing, and the middle class grew stronger.The increasing sophistication and efficiency of factory machines led to the need for adifferent kind of worker—one who could not only operate certain kinds of equipment but couldalso read and write. The classification of the skilled worker was born. A skilled worker is literateand has experience and expertise in specific areas of production, or on specific kinds ofmachines. The division arose between skilled and unskilled workers, with the former receivinghigher wages and, as some would say, greater job security.Postindustrial SocietiesThe rise of postindustrial societies, in which technology supports an information-basedeconomy, has created further social stratification. Fewer people work in factories, while morework in service industries. Education has become a more significant determinant of socialposition. The Information Revolution has also increased global stratification.Historical Stratification SystemsAll societies are stratified, but the criteria used to categorize people vary widely. Socialstratification has taken many forms throughout history, including slavery, the estate system,indentured servitude, the caste system, and the class system.
SlaverySlavery is a system of stratification in which one person owns another, as he or she wouldown property, and exploits the slave‘s labor for economic gain. Slaves are one of the lowestcategories in any stratification system, as they possess virtually no power or wealth of their own.The Estate SystemAn ancient stratification system that no longer exists today was the estate system, a three-tiered system composed of the nobility, the clergy, and the commoners. During the Middle Ages,much of Europe was organized under this system.NobilityMembers of the nobility had great inherited wealth and did little or no discernible work.They occupied themselves in what we would term leisure pursuits, such as hunting or riding.Others cultivated interests in cultural pursuits, such as art and music.To ensure that their inherited wealth passed smoothly from one generation to the nextwithout being dispersed to members of the extended family, the nobility of the Middle Agespracticed the law of primogeniture. The word primogeniture comes from Latin and means ―firstborn.‖ The nobility‘s law of primogeniture stipulated that only a first-born son could inherit hisfather‘s wealth.ClergyThe eldest son was guaranteed a healthy income upon the death of his father, but othersons had to find their own means of income. Few, if any, were trained for work, so many becamemembers of the Roman Catholic clergy, a body of religious officials. The clergy was verypowerful in European society in the Middle Ages, and membership offered long-term jobsecurity and a comfortable living. The higher up the ladder a priest went, the more power he hadover the masses.CommonersThe third tier of the estate system consisted of the masses of people known as thecommoners. They spent their lives engaged in hard physical labor, with virtually no chance ofmoving up in society.Indentured ServitudeSome commoners, searching for a way out of their situation, found it by agreeing to indenturedservitude, in which one individual agrees to sell his or her body or labor to another for aspecified period of time. Once the time period is over, the individual may leave. Indenturedservitude differs from slavery in that the individual chooses to enter into the agreement, whileslaves have no say in deciding the course of their lives.
Theories of StratificationEconomic Determinism / Conflict TheoryThe conflict theory approach argues that individuals at the top of social hierarchies arethere at the expense of people in lower positions. People higher up in the hierarchy will use theirpower to strengthen both the hierarchy and their standing in it.According to Marx who proposed this theory, economic factors are responsible for theemergence of different social strata or classes. Thus there are in every society two mutuallyconflicting societies – the rich and the poor or the class of the capitalists and the class of theworkers.Functionalist TheoryThis theory emphasizes the integrating function of social stratification based uponindividual merit and reward. Kingsley Davis, P.A. Sorokin, MacIver and others rejected theconflict theory of Marx. Sorokin attributed social stratification mainly to inherited individualdifferences in environmental conditions. According to Kingsley Davis stratification has comeinto being due to the functional necessity of the social system. The main functional necessity is―the requirement faced by any society of placing and motivating individuals in the socialstructure.‖All social system shares certain functional prerequisites which must be met if the systemis to survive and operate efficiently. One such prerequisite is role allocation and performance.This means that all roles must be filled. They will be filled by those best able to perform them.The necessary training for them is undertaken and that the roles are performed conscientiously.Davis and Moore argue that all societies need some mechanism for insuring effective roleallocation and performance. This mechanism is social stratification which they see as a systemwhich attaches unequal rewards and privileges to the positions in society. They concluded thatsocial stratification is a device by which societies insure that the most important positions areconscientiously filled by the most qualified persons.Dependency TheoryDependency theory is the body of theories that propound a worldview suggesting thewealthy countries of the world need a peripheral group of poorer countries to remain wealthy.Wealthy nations are seen as the core countries; poorer nations are seen as the peripheralcountries (with some countries falling in between). Core countries extract resources from theperiphery countries and eventually return those resources as manufactured goods. This works tomaintain the superiority of the core countries by stripping the periphery countries of their naturalresources and forcing them to buy manufactured goods at high prices - the proceeds going to thepeople and corporations of the core countries. Thus, poor nations provide natural resources,cheap labour, a destination for obsolete technology, and export markets for the wealthy nations.
Characteristics of Social StratificationIt is Social.It does not represent biologically caused inequalities. Biological traits do not determinesocial superiority and inferiority until they are socially recognized and given importance.The stratification system is (i) governed by social norms and sanctions, (ii) is likely to beunstable because it may be disturbed by many factors and (iii) is intimately connected with theother systems of society such as political, family, religious, economic, educational and otherinstitutions.It is Ancient.Stratification was present even is small wandering bands. Age and sex were the maincriterion of stratification then, difference between the rich and the poor, powerful and humble,freeman and slaves was there in almost all the civilizations.It is Universal.Differences between the rich and the poor, the haves and have nots are presenteverywhere. Stratification is not limited to any society or region.It is in Diverse Forms.It is never been uniform in all the societies. Roman society was stratified into two strata :the patricians (aristocrat family of ancient rome) and the plebians (common people). The ancientAryan society into four varnas. The greek society into freeman and slaves. The ancient Chineseinto mandarins, merchants, farmers and so on.It is consequential.The system refers to two main kinds of consequences. (i) life chances and (ii) life styles.Life-chances refer to such things as infant mortality, longevity, physical and mental illness,childlessness, marital conflict, separation and divorce. ‗life-styles‘ include suchg matters as themode of housing, residential area, one‘s education, means of recreation, relationship between theparents and children and so on.Social Stratification and Social MobilitySocial mobility may be understood as the movement of people or group from one socialstatus or position to another status or position. For example, the poor people may become rich,peon becoming the bank manager, farmer becoming minister etc.
Vertical Social MobilityThis refers to the movement of people from one status to another. It involves change inclass, occupation or power. Examples: from poor to middle lassHorizontal MobilityThis is a change in position without a change in status. It indicates a change in positionwithin the range of the status. Example a teacher leaving from one school and joining another.Inter- and Intra-generational mobilityIntra-generational mobility ("within" a generation) is defined as changes in social status over asingle life-time. Inter-generational mobility ("across" generations) is defined as changes in socialstatus that occur from the parents to the childrens generation.Caste―A collection of families, bearing a common name, claiming a common descent, from amythical ancestor , human and divine, professing to follow the same hereditary calling andregarded by those who are competent to give an opinion as forming a single homogenouscommunity.‖ :- Sir Herbert Risely.India’s Caste SystemThe Indian government officially outlawed the caste system in 1949, but vestiges of itremain today. The system originated with the Hindu religion, which subscribes to the concept ofreincarnation, the belief that while the physical body dies, the soul of a person is immortal andgoes on to be reborn into another body.The Five CastesThe Indian caste system has existed for about 3,000 years. There were four originalcastes, and one caste so low that it was not even considered to be part of the caste system:The Brahman caste usually consisted of priests or scholars and enjoyed a great deal ofprestige and wealth.The Kshatriya caste, or warrior caste, was composed of those who distinguishedthemselves in military service.The Vaishva caste comprised two sets of people—business-people and skilledcraftspeople.The Shudra caste consisted of those who made their living doing manual labor.
The Harijan, Dalit, or Untouchable caste was thought to comprise only inferior peoplewho were so repulsive that an individual who accidentally touched one would have to engage inextensive ritual ablutions to rid himself or herself of the contamination.The Beginning of the caste systemThere are different theories about the establishment of the caste system. There arereligious-mystical theories. There are biological theories. And there are socio-historical theories.The religious theories explain how the four Varnas were founded, but they do notexplain how the Jats in each Varna or the untouchables were founded. According the Rig Veda,the ancient Hindu book, the primal man - Purush - destroyed himself to create a human society.The different Varnas were created from different parts of his body. The Brahmans were createdfrom his head; the Kshatrias from his hands; the Vaishias from his thighs and the Sudras from hisfeet. The Varna hierarchy is determined by the descending order of the different organs fromwhich the Varnas were created. Other religious theory claims that the Varnas were created fromthe body organs of Brahma, who is the creator of the world.The biological theory claims that all existing things, animated and inanimated, inherentthree qualities in different apportionment. Sattva qualities include wisdom, intelligence, honesty,goodness and other positive qualities. Rajas include qualities like passion, pride, valour and otherpassionate qualities. Tamas qualities include dullness, stupidity, lack of creativity and othernegative qualities. People with different doses of these inherent qualities adopted different typesof occupation. According to this theory the Brahmans inherent Sattva qualities. Kshatrias andVaisias inherent Rajas qualities. And the Sudras inherent Tamas qualities.The social historical theory explains the creation of the Varnas, Jats and of theuntouchables. According to this theory, the caste system began with the arrival of the Aryans inIndia. The Aryans arrived in India around 1500 BC. The fair skinned Aryans arrived in Indiafrom south Europe and north Asia. Before the Aryans there were other communities in India ofother origins. Among them Negrito, Mongoloid, Austroloid and Dravidian. The Negrito havephysical features similar to people of Africa. The Mongoloid have Chinese features. TheAustroloids have features similar the aboriginals of Australia. The Dravidians originate from theMediterranean and they were the largest community in India. When the Aryans arrived in Indiatheir main contact was with the Dravidians and the Austroloids. The Aryans disregarded thelocal cultures. They began conquering and taking control over regions in north India and at thesame time pushed the local people southwards or towards the jungles and mountains in northIndia.The Aryans organized among themselves in three groups. The first group was of the warriors andthey were called Rajayana, later they changed their name Rajayana to Kshatria. The second
group was of the priests and they were called Brahmans. These two groups struggled politicallyfor leadership among the Aryans. In this struggle the Brahmans got to be the leaders of the Aryansociety. The third group was of the farmers and craftsmen and they were called Vaisia. TheAryans who conquered and took control over parts of north India subdued the locals and madethem their servants. In this process the Vaisias who were the farmers and the craftsmen becamethe landlords and the businessmen of the society and the locals became the peasants and thecraftsmen of the society.Characteristics of Caste in India• Basis is kinship• Associated occupation• Clearly separated, self-regulating groups• No individual mobility in one lifetime• No inter-caste marriage• Religious interpretation ranked by purityClass―A social class is the aggregate of persons having essentially the same social status in a givensociety‖. :- Ogburn and NimkoffClass depends largely on economic differences between groups – differences in incomeand wealth, possession of material goods and life chances.In a class system, an individual‘s place in the social system is based on achieved statuses,which are statuses that we either earn or choose and that are not subject to where or to whom wewere born. Those born within a class system can choose their educational level, careers, andspouses. Social mobility, or movement up or down the social hierarchy, is a major characteristicof the class system.Classifications of ClassSociologists have given three-fold classification of classes which consists of - upperclass, middle class and lower class. Sorokin has spoken of three major types of classstratification -they are economic, political and occupational classes. Lloyd Warner shows howclass distinctions contribute to social stability. Veblen analyzed the consumption pattern of therich class by the concept of conspicuous consumption. Warner has classified classes into sixtypes- upper-upper class, upper-middle class, upper-lower class, lower-upper class, the lowermiddle class and lower class. Anthony Giddenss three class model is the upper, middle andlower (working) class. Karl Marx
Nature and Characteristics of Social Class.A Status GroupAchieved Status and not AscribedUniversalityMode of feelinga) Feeling of equalityb) Feeling of inferiorityc) Feeling of superiorityElement of PrestigeElement of StabilityMode of LivingOpen GroupEconomic GroupRaceRace and ethnic relations are the patterns of interaction among groups whose members sharedistinctive physical characteristics or cultural traits."Racial group is a kind of ethnic group, one that is set apart from others by somecombination of inherited biological traits such as - skin colour, facial features, and stature.":- N. J. SmelserThe three major races in the world are Negretoid, Mangloid and Caucasian.ConclusionThe study of social stratification, class, caste, race are all necessary for a social worker tounderstand the community the worker works with. These factors are the common norms that asociety is based upon.Referenceshttp://www.sociologyguide.com/social-stratification/index.phphttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_stratification