Social Stratification

Social stratification, which exists in every community, is the hierarchically arranged system of social inequalities such as rankings, groupings, and socio-economic categories.
Social Stratification Sociology Definition

Definition of Social Stratification

Social stratification, which exists in every community, is the hierarchically arranged system of social inequalities such as rankings, groupings, and socio-economic categories. In order to comprehend societal stability and changing processes, social stratification examines societies as a whole from a comparative viewpoint. Different aspects of social stratification focus on creating status and class-based groups as the foundation for comprehending social integration. It illustrates how cohesive or contentious social interactions are and the resulting social order.

Sociological Explanation of Social Stratification

In macro sociology, social stratification is the primary focus. Social groups make up the societal strata in sociology, and studies of sociology place a strong focus on how disparities are generated and maintained through time.

In diverse ways, ethnicity, age, caste, and class have played a role in relationships of dominance and subordination in various eras. Access to or control over certain social resources has also played a role in creating and maintaining inequality.

In communities where the social distinction is based on gender differences, they are related to dominance and subordination relationships.

It is crucial to understand that these factors are not exclusive to one another, as ethnicity has a significant role in shaping disparities in many countries like the US.

Social differentiation and social stratification are often compared in sociological studies. The development of horizontal social divides is a component of differentiation. Social strata are ranked vertically or hierarchically via stratification. 

A constant gradation of socio-economic classes, occupational divisions, and ethno-racial classifications is implied by the term “stratification.” Strata may be genuine, representing actual social distances, or nominal, created by sociologists. Social gaps and deliberate exclusions create real strata.

Functionalism has emphasized the implications of historical and present stratification systems. According to Davis and Moore, stratification is necessary for all communities to operate. The origins and continued existence of social stratification are explained by the functionalist hypothesis of social stratification in line with this definition it gives to human communities. According to functionalist sociologists, particularly Davis and Moore, every civilization has to encourage people to occupy significant social roles, and stratification is a universal need. Arbitrary incentives, like cash and prestige, are seen to be a method for placing high-valued people in key positions. According to Davis and Moore, social inequality has developed as a way for society to make sure that the best competent people are chosen to hold the most important posts. Functionalists present stratification as socially advantageous and consensual in the functional theory of stratification. The functionalist methodology has drawn criticism for several reasons, including its potential ideological ramifications. Additionally, stratification systems do not provide equitable opportunities for skill development. Recruitment into elite jobs is often impacted by factors other than skill, and social standing is crucial both at birth and via inheritance.

Sociologists also differentiate between closed and open stratification systems, such as the Hindu caste system and current occupation-position-based class systems. Social mobility is restricted and constrained in the closed system due to cultural norms. Mobility is prevalent, intensive, and socially acceptable in the open stratification system.

Stratification is seen by conflict theorists as disputed and accompanied by dominance. According to Marxists, it results from the exploitation of the economy that creates class relations.

According to Weberian theory, stratification results from several forms of dominance along with hierarchies of socio-economic class, sociocultural standing, and sociopolitical authority.

Modern stratification systems emphasize attained attributes like knowledge, talents, achievement, and experience and are open to social mobility, which is common and anticipated. They also get more complicated when different stratification factors and dimensions interact with and influence one another. Modern social stratification scholars often create artificial gradations, such as stratification schemes, by combining class, occupational position, political influence, social networks, and authoritative factors. As globalization advances, many sociologists regard the whole globe as stratified, often along socio-economic and power axes.

Studies of organized social inequality and any systematic disparities between groups of individuals that develop as an unintentional result of social interactions and processes are studied using the concept of social stratification. By delving into stratification studies, sociologists raise concerns about the injustice and prejudice experienced by Blacks in the United States.

The objectives that are established for social stratification studies.

  1. Examining class and status patterns and the factors of class and status development.
  2. Determining the degree to which class or status systems prevail at the macro level is foundational to modalities of social activity. Numerous historical and sociological studies have tried to explain why the extent of such class development might vary.
  3. Social stratification describes status, opportunity, and outcomes disparities and how different groups maintain status or class borders. It looks at the issue of social closure and the exclusionary tactics used by certain groups to protect their advantages while other groups try to access them.


Caste-based social stratification in Indian society into Brahmins and Sudras. In this stratification, Brahmins enjoy all the socio-economic benefits, and the Sudras are placed at the lowest ladder of society. Sudras are discriminated against based on birth, color, and socioeconomic position. 

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