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.”

It refers to the practice of segregating social groups based on prestige, wealth, and power possessed by the members of the social group. Lundberg states,

“A stratified society is one marked by inequality, by differences among people that are evaluated by them as being lower and higher”.

There are four different types of social stratification found in India which are as follows:

Caste Stratification

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.

Religious Stratification

Religious stratification is caused by the difference in religious beliefs existing in society. 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. In Hinduism, the caste system was divided into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. 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. It also causes oppression.

Class Stratification

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. Biological traits such as intelligence, skin color, gender, and the like do not cause social stratification. Social stratification is different in every society. For instance, the Aryan society was segregated into the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Sudras.

Ethnic Stratification

Ethnicity refers to the differences existing in cultural factors of individuals and groups rather than physical factors. In social stratification based on ethnicity, inequality occurs based on the fixed memberships of individuals or groups such as nationality, religion, race, or social position. This leads to differences in rewards and opportunities.

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. According to Bernard Barber, “Social stratification in its most general sense, is a sociological concept that refers to the fact that both individuals and groups of individuals are conceived of as constituting higher or lower differentiated strata or classes in terms of some specific or generalized characteristic or set of characteristics.”Discuss the Different Types of Social Stratification Found in India