In sociology it is a concept that involves placing people into groups or classifications based on their shared socio-economic conditions.
These are sets of inequalities with:
When apparent differences result in an increased power, status or privilege for groups of individuals over another group, it is called social stratification. It is a process where people in society rank others into categories that are represented in a form of a hierarchy. For instance, in western society, individuals tend to be grouped depending on their social position, for example in either the upper class, middle class or the lower class.
What is social stratification based on?
It is based on four simple principles:
- Social stratification is seen as a trait of society, not as a basic reflection of people’s individual differences.
- Social stratification is passed on from one generation to the next.
- It is most definitely a concept that is used universally but it is also variable.
- Social stratification does not only involve inequality but individual’s
The different forms of stratification:
- Primitive communalism: This is characterised by a rather high degree of sharing and a minimal amount of social inequality.
- Slavery: Obviously involves great inequality and also the ownership of individuals by others.
- Caste: This is when an individual is indefinitely assigned to a status just based upon the individuals parents’ status.
Social stratification and Karl Marx
The sociological concept of social stratification is obviously interpreted differently by the various types of theoretical perspectives available. Karl Marx developed his conflict theory which is based upon the idea that our modern society is made up of only two classes of people:
The bourgeoisie are the owners of the factories, businesses and any equipment needed to produce the wealth for the nation. The proletariat are basically the workers. According to Marx’s theory, the bourgeoisie in capitalist societies always exploited the workers, whilst the workers did not realise it. As time went on, the workers became more educated and joined programmes like trade unions.
Max Weber and social stratification
Max Weber conflicted against Marx’s theory and suggested that it was too much of a simplistic view of stratification. He argued that owning property is only one part of what decides a person’s class. Weber declared that social class included power and also prestige. For example he showed that individuals who ran corporations without owning them, still benefited highly from increased production and therefore greater profits.