According to Gisbert,
“Social stratification is the division of society into permanent groups of categories linked with each other by the relationship of superiority and subordination.”
Social stratification is a form of social inequality. It refers to the practice of segregating social groups based on prestige, wealth, and power possessed by the members of the social group. In other words, it is the allocation of groups and individuals based on social hierarchies of differing status, power, wealth, and prestige. It refers to the inequality associated with the social status of an individual. Lundberg states,
“A stratified society is one marked by inequality, by differences among people that are evaluated by them as being lower and higher”.
Causes of Social Stratification and Inequalities in India
The causes of social stratification and inequalities in India are as follows:
Social Stratification is an Ancient Practice
Social stratification is an ancient practice. Since ancient times, there exists a difference between the rich and the poor, the landowners and the laborers, and the like. This has led to the practice of social stratification and inequality even in the modern age.
Social Stratification is Consequential
Social stratification is consequential. As a result, it leads to many consequences such as the unequal treatment of rich and poor. The poor people or those belonging to the low social face discrimination and receive unequal opportunities and rewards.
Caste in social stratification is based on the transmission of lifestyle, hereditary, and endogamy that involves a hierarchy status, occupation, and customary social practice of exclusion that revolves around purity. In ancient India, there existed a practice called ‘untouchability’. Individuals who belonged to low caste were not allowed to enter temples and were treated with discrimination. They were considered to be impure and therefore, regarded as untouchables.
Social stratification based on social class and status is the ranking of individuals and groups on a social hierarchy. This ranking depends on the honor, prestige, wealth, and property held by an individual or group in society. In social stratification, inequality is based entirely on social factors and not on biological factors. Social stratification is different in every society. For instance, the Aryan society was segregated into the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Sudras.
Religious stratification is one of the most common forms of social stratification. Stronger religious communities hold power and dominance over relatively weaker communities which arises conflict and communal disturbance in society. It leads to social problems such as communal conflict, religious hate crimes, the difference of opinions, violence that would not be present had there been no religious stratification in the society. This segregation leads to inequality in rewards and opportunities and the discrimination of minorities.
Malvin M. Tumin states,
“Social stratification refers to arrangements of any social group or society into a hierarchy of positions that are unequal concerning power, property, social evaluation, and/or social gratification.”
Social stratification is different in every society. For instance, the Aryan society was segregated into the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Sudras. Social stratification leads to many consequences such as the unequal treatment of rich and poor.