“A stratified society is one marked by inequality, by differences among people that are evaluated by them as being lower and higher”.
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. In social stratification based on religion, inequality occurs based on the fixed memberships of individuals or groups such as religion, race, or social position. This leads to differences in rewards and opportunities.
Origin of 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. Sociologists James D. Davidson and Ralph E. Pyle (2011) believed that religious stratification originated during America’s colonial period resulting from religious competition, religious ethnocentrism, and inequality of resources and opportunities. In Hinduism, the caste system was divided into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
Persistence and Consequences of Religious Stratification
According to Davidson and Pyle (2011), religious stratification destabilizes 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. It also causes oppression. In the modern age, there are many ways through which this practice of unequal treatment is being eliminated. For instance, the abolition of the practice of untouchability by the Indian Constitution.
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.