- Social stratification implies relations of superiority and inferiority among individuals, families and groups.
- Such relations are governed by a set of norms and values upheld and enforced by the state and the society.
- Social stratification is a process through which groups and social categories in societies are ranked as higher or lower to one another in terms of their relative oposition on the – scales of prestige, privileges, wealth and power.
- Social stratification is also historical process.
- It emerged as a social institution of societies at a certain level of social evolution and social development.
KARL MARX ON STRATIFICATION
- ‘Base’ is economic structure, and ‘superstructure’ includes polity, religion, culture etc.
- To clarify further, according to Marx stratification is determined by the system of relations of production, and ‘status’ is determined by a person’s position in the very system in terms of ownership and non-ownership of the means of production.
- The owners are named as ‘bourgeoisie’ aid the non-owners are called as ‘proletariat’ by Marx.
- These are in fact social categories rather than bare economic entities.
WEBERIAN SOCIAL STRATIFICATION
- More concrete formulation of social stratification is presented by Max Weber in his analysis of ‘class, status and party’.
- Weber not only clearly distinguishes between economic structure, status system and political power, he also finds interconnections , between these three in the form of the system of social stratification.
- ‘Class’ is an economic phenomenon, a product of the ‘market situation’ which implies competition among different classes such as buyers and sellers.
- ‘Status’ is recognition of ‘honour’.
- People are distributed among different classes, so are status groups based on distribution of honour which is identified in terms of a range of symbols in a given society.
- Though analytically, classes and status groups are independent phenomena, they are significantly related to each other depending upon the nature and formation of a given society at a given point of time.
Weber presented the categorization of society in four ways:-
- The propertied upper class– They were the upper-class people who had an immense amount of property which was their way of collecting revenues from tenants. For example, the landlords collected revenue from the tenants when they gave a portion of their land to them.
- The propertyless white-collar workers- They were the skilled labours who sat behind the tables to earn a proper salary. Mostly middle-class people were seen doing the white collar jobs. Comparing with the present situation, workers working in MNC’s or power plants can be termed as white collar seeking employees.
- The petty bourgeoisie– They were belonging to lower class people. Marx was in the favour of highlighting their declining position in the society.
- The manual working class– They can be called as the lower class medium also popularly known as blue collar jobs at that time. They had to do work manually and were paid less than the necessity.
- It is argued that the models of class structure presented so far are incomplete.
- Class models based on ownership (Marx) and those on personal marketability (Weber) tend not be effectively combined.
- Another area of distinct concern has arisen in recent class theory, that of control. This has focused particularly on the rise of white-collar management.
- Contemporary sociologists have also debated the political consequences of the new system of social stratification ushered in by industrialism and information technology.
- Gerhard Lenski (Power and Privilege, 1966) maintains that “the appearance of mature industrial societies marks the first significant reversal in the age-old evolutionary trend toward ever increasing inequality”.
- Other writers—most notably F. Hunter and C.W. Mills—contend that industrial societies have produced a new type of power elite, who controls the destiny of modern nations such as America.