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I. 2.2.5 Social stratification

Social stratification

  • A universal phenomenon
  • Based on various attributes
  • Maintained by authority of state (apartheid) or force/ power of society (racism, caste system of India)


It refers to division of society into a number of strata , hierarchically  arranged groupings. Stratification has some common features

  • ranking of individuals and groups in a hierarchical status

eg. in India social hierarchy is done in following manner

Social stratification in India according to the caste system – untouchables – lower caste (sudra, Vaishya ) – higher caste( kshatriya , Brahmin)

  • inequalities are institutionalized and legitimized by the society
  • stratification is a Universal phenomenon
  • Stratification is found in both simple and complex societies
  • basis of inequality varies from society society and from time to time
  • Stratification is social in nature and does not include biological causal inequality
  • In simple societies it is based on age, sex, physical strength etc.
  • Members of common status have common life style and may display awareness of common identity and characteristics
  • Characteristics of common identity distinguishes them from others

Basis of grouping ie stratification

  1. Social attributes -caste, class, estate
  • Landless, marginal , jamindar

In post Industrial society, class based social stratification became deep-rooted

  1. Biological attributes -age, sex, race birth wealth

In pre-industrial europe society was divide into Clergy, nobility, merchant,  peasant. Pre Industrial society stratification was based on religion and military superiority.

Mechanism and dynamism of stratification

Andre Beittele

“Power plays an important role in maintenance and generation of social stratification,  the power may be due to State Authority or by means of force of society”

eg. State sponsored enforcement of privileges and debility ie white folks superiority over black people as in South Africa led to Apartheid.


  1. Positive
    • Group solidarity
    • Maintaining cultural identity
    • Political consolidation
    • Economic cooperation
    • Promote religious affinity
  2. Negative impact
    • Social segregation
    • Human right violations
    • inter state conflict


Social stratification is a Universal phenomenon. It is a result of power /authority and it conveys the underlying basis income, power, prestige, political hegemony, economic prosperity, social deprivation, segregation violence, discrimination.


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