“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.
Social Stratification on Caste
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 on Class
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.
Social Stratification on Ethnicity
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 on the basis of the fixed memberships of individuals or groups such as nationality, religion, race, or social position. This leads to differences in rewards and opportunities.
Malvin M. Tumin states,
“Social stratification refers to arrangements of any social group or society into a hierarchy of positions that are unequal with regard to power, property, social evaluation, and/or social gratification.”