The Major Dimensions Of Social Stratification

2848 words - 11 pages

The Major Dimensions of Social Stratification

For one to attempt the question, “what are the major dimensions of
social stratification?” , one must first define the term social
stratification. Social stratification is often used interchangeably
with social inequality and one must distinguish between the two terms.
Social inequality refers to the existence of socially created
inequalities. Social stratification is a form of social inequality,
however, social inequality does not inevitably lead to social
stratification. It is define as the presence of distinct social groups
which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such a
prestige and wealth. These factors are called valued resources.

In hunting and gathering societies, social inequality is minimal and
stratification absent. Members of this type of society, more or less,
had equal access to valued resources. They also had equal life chances
which are chances to obtaining thing that are valued in society. These
societies are known as “egalitarian societies”. However, it can be
stated that in these types of societies, individuals may have higher
status or greater prestige than others. A good hunter may be highly
esteemed but his as a hunter does not automatically give him a
superior life style, neither does he pass his prestige to his
offspring.

As society developed from hunting and gathering societies to more
industrialized societies, individuals now have unequal access to value
resources. In others words, valued resources are unequally distributed
among individual in society. This cause society to be divided into
levels or strata where those who belong to a particular group or
stratum will have awareness of common interest, a common identity and
share a similar lifestyle. This would distinguish them from members of
other strata. These levels or strata are ranked hierarchical order in
terms of superiority and inferiority. Persons or groups in a higher
ranked stratum have greater access to valued resources such as power,
prestige, wealth, and privilege than the persons at the bottom or in
the lower ranked stratum. Therefore it can be said that those at the
top are considered to be superior to those at the bottom. One can note
that in most systems of stratification, the group occupying the higher
stratum tent to have a smaller population that those at the bottom.
The lower the stratum, the more population increases. Hence an
illustration of a system of stratification can be represented by a
pyramid or a triangle.

The Indian caste system can be used as an example of a system of
stratification. This system consist of five levels or castes namely
the Brahmins ( priest at the highest caste), the Kshatriyas (rulers
and warriors), the Vaisyas (merchants and traders), the Sundras
(cultivators and menials), and the...

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