Social Stratification: definition.
Social Stratification is the condition of being arranged in a social strata or classes within a group. In other words it is a system by which a society divides people and ranks them in categories. These categories are then placed in a hierarchy. This is shown by a pyramid where most fortunate ones are placed at the topmost level.
Stratification is the trait of every society in every part of the world. It is not an issue of today but have persisted over the generations. It's format have continuously changed over the years and among geographical boundaries but it has always been an integral part of each and every society.
Stratification in Indian society
Stratification in an Indian society is based on ascription. It means it is a type of culture in which not on the basis of achievement but on the basis of "who a person is", stratification is done. It could involve inequality on the basis of gender, economical status and caste system. Thus here, in an Indian society, people are placed in the stratification system by their ascribed status and the ideology is to follow the caste rules without questioning its credibility. Such a system is a classic example of closed Social Mobility.
When caste system depicts Closed Social Mobility, the Class system reflects Open Social Mobility. In a class system, even blood relatives may have different social status where one can move up and around the hierarchy based on personal merit and achievements.
When stratification is done on the basis of wealth or income, a lot of mobility and fluidity is observed. No caste or class difference is observed.
According to Davis Moore, "stratification has beneficial consequences for the operation of a society. When certain job can be performed by anyone, some other job demands the scarce talent of people with extensive training". So, the greater the demand of a job, the more importance it is given and thus more reward is attached with it.
Disadvantage of Stratification system:
The only disadvantage of social stratification system is the conflict between various strata of the hierarchy. The reason being inaccessibility of various resources and lack of social mobility further intensifies this conflict. The wealth and luxury remains highly concentrated at the top of the hierarchy. And those occupying the topmost strata always try to restrict upward mobility by controlling law and authorities with their wealth and influence.The wards of high class professionals would grow up with the expectation of achieving a similar occupation as their parent, whereas a child of a lower status working class parents will often have much lower aspirations based upon what they see around them. For example, the ward of a doctor would be more expected to follow the same profession and a kin of a businessman is more likely to continue with his father's business.
Joseph A. Schumpter, Richard Swedberg in their book "Capitalism, Socialism and democracy", have explained the vision of Karl Marx for a stratification-free society where there would exist no inequality on the basis of richness and class. But the class conflict was so strong that it only resulted in the reconstruction of the society. The stratification hierarchy was just re-structured but never abolished. The wealth still remained concentrated at the top of the hierarchy pyramid, white-collar jobs offer little to the workers and the poor still remained at the bottom of the structure.