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.”
A 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”.
Nature and Characteristics of Social Stratification
The nature and characteristics of social stratification are as follows:
- Social: 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.
- Universal: Social stratification is universal as the difference between the rich and the poor, the high class and the lower class are found in all parts of the world.
- Ancient Practice: Social stratification is an ancient practice. Since the age of Plato, there exists a difference between the rich and the poor, the landowners and the laborers, and the like.
- Diverse: Social stratification is different in every society. For instance, the Aryan society was segregated into the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Sudras. The Greek society was divided into freemen and slaves.
- Consequential: Social stratification leads to many consequences such as the unequal treatment of rich and poor.
Importance of Social Stratification
The importance of social stratification are as follows:
- There is clarity in the tasks that should be performed.
- The responsibilities and authorities are distinguished.
- There is the existence of training and recruitment.
- Motivates individuals belonging to different social groups to become better.
- Individuals work harder to have a better place in society.
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.”