Mod-01 Lec-23 Social stratification-I: Social inequality and stratification

Mod-01 Lec-23 Social stratification-I: Social inequality and stratification


Friends, today we are going to start a new
and very interesting topic of social stratification. I would say that this is a center topic of
sociology, soul of sociology and perhaps, if there were no social stratification there
would not be no sociology. All sociologies are about social stratification. So, first
we will see what social stratification is then we will go into two or three major queries
of social stratification. We can also spend some time on the nature of stratification
in Indian society and exploring the question whether it is possible to have a society of
equal, and how do sociologist or theoreticians or politicians and visa’s to create a society
of equals. Social stratification is part of the general
problem of inequality, but is not the inequality as a whole. Our everyday experience shows
that men are unequal, unequal and different men. That means, women also men, women are
unequal and different, there are so many basis of defining differences and inequality. Some
are short, some are tall, some are white, some are black, different colors, different
racist, different features in the same country. In India almost all features of humans are
found, we have trace of African race, Aryan race and in the north east our people look
more like Chinese, Mangolian. There are differences in color features, so many differences, differences
in nose, eyes, complexion, ears, hair. There are differences in hair, there are differences
in muscular strength between men and women, and between different men. There are age differences
children, adults, old some are educated some are uneducated some are rich, some are poor
some are more influential, some are less influential. And people differ in terms of political ideology,
religion, beliefs, so many things, but all differences there are natural differences. Broadly some differences can be called natural,
and some can be called social. Although in the final analysis you will see that there
is no natural factor, which is un influenced by social factors. So, what we have in reality
is the outcome of hereditary or biological factors and environmental factors, yet for
the purpose of communication, simplicity for age and conceptualizing various types of differences
and inequalities. It is common to divide all kinds of inequalities and differences into
natural and social. Somebody can say that sex differences are natural, differences in
height weight color complexion are natural. And differences in education income, social
status, religious beliefs and political commitments are social, natural and social.
Now, in society another thing that we see is that these natural and social differences
are not seen merely as differences, they are also arranged in terms of high and low. Ultimately,
all differences lead to some kind of hierarchy, some people are seen to be in position of
desired trades, good things in terms of beauty, wealth, power, prestige and others are seen
to be low on indicators of these types. So, high end though that means, there is inequality
among people in all society, there is inequality. Inequality is a mode general term and there
is natural inequality, there is social inequality. One of our leading sociologist from India
Andre Bethe says that even natural inequalities are ultimately social, how the differences
in age are natural, but if a society accounts more importance to older generation to parents,
grandparents. And if according to norms of society, younger people must necessarily obey
show elegance, respect, regard towards the older generation, this is a social fact. So,
although the difference in age is natural, the inequality routed in age is social. Nobody
says that younger generation should pay respect to you know there is no natural reason, it
will difficult for us to argue that there is a natural reason for younger generation
to pay elegance to older generation. We can have society in which all are equal
or middle, middle classes in terms of a middle age group, middle age groups, adults have
more prestige. If you look at societies around you and compare what has happened to status
of old people, in different societies. You find that there are tremendous variations
one day I was telling you that anthropologist have found that in some tribal societies in
the past, if there was a shortage of food during famines doubts or when the nomad, the
group decided to move to some other place in search of food, they often left their old
people behind. And in several cases old people were expected
to commit suicide because old people were seen as burden. In Indian society for much
of that historical period we know of, old people have always been given more respect.
The term or old person is not to be despised, old people have respect if your are other
factors remaining same, our traditional religious and mythological literature shows that people,
old people invites some respect. And in case of controversies younger people
and adults must respect and follow, what the old people say. Similarly, the difference
of age it is natural some are men some are women, it is not by we did not will when we
were in mother’s womb, we did not will whether we would like to be male or female its natural,
but this natural thing sex although it should lead to difference. Age and sex should lead to difference, but
there is no reason they should also lead to inequality. The empirical fact show that they
also lead to inequality. So, there is sex inequality, in all society there is sex inequality
and in all these lectures in sociology, there has not been any lecture any day, when we
did not talk about some kind of sex inequality all societies have inequality with respect
to sex. So, you have matriarchal society, women more powerful than man, you have patriarchal
society, men more powerful than women. If you look at data on work participation
rate, participation of men in economic activity is much higher than participation of women
in economic activity, then that also creates inequality in power prestige. In family also
there are differences of entitlements, if there is limited amount of food that will
first be given to adult male these days, and in the last to younger females that has been
the case. Now, to some extent situation in urban middle class is changing, but the wastages
of pass remain for long period and this was the case that there was inequality with respect
to sex. Nobody can claim that today there is any society
anywhere in any part of in any continent in Latin America, in North America, Western Europe,
in Southern Europe, in Asia, Africa anywhere where men and women are equal. Everywhere
men and women are equal I remember somewhere, I read a theory that there is a relationship
between development and inequality. Initially as development takes place, the
status of women
this is just one theory and I am not saying that all sociologist will agree with this
theory. Initially, with socio economic development status of women falls. And with more and more
development of society in post developed or post modern or post industrial society, the
status of women will rise clear. In primitive matriarch though this is controversial many
people believe that a in primitive society also there was patriarchal, there were traces
of nuclear family, but the general understanding is that for a long time in the past, women
were more powerful status of women was good. And with emergence of feudal society, feudal
in feudal society there is a down fall of status of women. In agricultural societies
there is a at least in the context of Europe, in Medual Europe in estate in feudal society,
status of the women declined may be status was declined status of women declined further
little bit, in early phases of industrialization. Emergence of private property according to
mass were the major reason behind fall of status of women in feudal society, and this
also aggravated inequalities, in the early phases of industrialization, which presented
a man centric model of economic development. In agriculture at least there was some space
for women, in agriculture itself and in allied activities and in processing of agricultural
things, within households there was some place for women, but in early industrial society,
when women become housewife and are separated from the labor market.
There is a further reduction in status of women, but as time passes with more industrialization,
more economic development for several reasons one that now the nature of work is such that
anybody can do it. Work in post industrial society, in the service sector increasingly,
industry means manufacturing, manufacturing plants. Service sector in post industrial
society, the work is such that anybody can do in the service sector you do not require
muscular strength in particularly, there is not much importance of muscular strength.
There is more importance of brain power and since, there is no difference in brain of
men and women again the position of women improves.
So, in education, in the insurance sector, in the banking sector, in computed aged engineering’s
of various types certainly in software’s, but not a software alone in any kind of engineering,
computer aided mechanical engineering, computer aided chemical engineering. Wherever computers
have come in culture, in politics women can participate equally and therefore, the status
of women improves, but today I do not want to talk much about status of women. I am,
I was only trying to show the position of an eminent Indian sociologist Andre Bethe
that there are inequalities in society, the basis of inequality are several, some of them
are considered to be natural and some are considered to be social, but in the final
analysis even social sorry in the final analysis even natural inequalities, or inequalities
based on natural factors such as age, sex, color. Complexion racial characteristic are social
because society selects, which natural factor, which category of natural factors color or
sex or age should be accorded a higher status, and which other category should be accorded
a lower status. When we find that in American society, whites are seen to be high and black
or American Africans are seen to be low. There is no biological reason to say that whites
are superior to blacks, it is social, there is a no biological reason to treat blacks
to be inferior to white, but whites are supposed to be high on intelligence, on aesthetics,
on various types of abilities and in education achieved. Education is the key to inequality
in our times. Similarly, whether taller people should be
given more importance than shorter people, depends it is social whether, tallness is
superior to shortness that is social. There are many things which tall people can do better
there are many things, which short people can do better. And there may be no differences
in brain power, in physical strength when it comes to performance of concrete activities.
Even in games and sports many times shorter people have done wonders, but in society,
society may give more importance to some people and less to others.
So, there are inequalities there are differences and society makes differences unequal. Inequality
is so universal that at least not today, you can identify any society, in which everybody
is equal. And interestingly people not only differ in terms of certain biological and
social trades they are seen to be unequal, high and low, superior inferior, super ordinates
subordinates, dominant dominated, exploiters exploited. Those who discriminate against
others and those who were discriminated against there are differences. However, in the study
of social stratification, we are more concerned more worried about one particular type of
social inequality. Social stratification is that social stratification
is a type of social inequality, marked by those social inequality, which satisfy these
criteria are seen as representing social stratification. It does not mean that other elements of differences
or inequality are not invidious or unfair or unjust, but there are certain things one
that in society exist at in stable social groups, there must be some social groups.
That means, family not the basis of social stratification within family, there are differences
of age gender education wealth, income political power, but in study of social stratification
we will ignore differences within family. We are more concerned with differences between
social groups, and social groups are social groups which become the basis of social stratification
are such that they are relatively stable. When I discuss group using disbursed definition,
I explained that you can think of groups according to degree of organization or interaction,
first degree to forth degree. Social groups, some social groups are very temporary phenomena,
cultural associations, photographic loves, even political parties they are not, so stable
groups. We can join one political party today and leave it tomorrow, they are not so stable,
but there are some stable social groups. For example, cast, cast as a social group has
been present in society for thousands of years, it is a stable group.
Similarly, economic class, economic class is also more stable not as stable as cast,
but this is also quite stable. In societies where race is a basis of social stratification
race racial groups are the groups, which survive for indefinitely long time. Now, there is
a mixture of race and there is also a debate on in United States, there has to be an interesting
debate on. If you have some policies for the benefit of blacks then defining black becomes
a problem. In our country there are many rural development programs meant only for those
living below the poverty line, and defining poverty line becomes a problem in India. Last
year there was lot of controversy regarding how should poverty line be defined.
Now, in united states if there are some programs and policies, for the up liftment of blacks,
you have to define what is black because there are lot of people in United States today,
who are neither pure black or pure white, pure black will mean for hundreds of generations
they have been black, or pure white will mean that for hundreds of generations they have
been pure white. Now, there is a mixture so they have to define
that to be part of the category of blacks, for how many generations from father side
and mothers side were has to be black or white. It is a difficult technical issue and a debatable
issue, this will always be debative, because there will be for every definition there will
be some beneficiaries and some deprived of the benefit, it is a definitional issue, but
as compared to many other groups which are of transient nature. Racial groups are more
stable. So, there are stable groups. Second they can be ranked these stable groups
can be ranked high, low in terms
of wealth, power and prestige. If there are stable groups, which are not ranked in terms
of wealth, power and prestige then they do not constitute social stratification. Though
the stable social groups will provide a frame work of social stratification, which can be
ranked in terms of wealth, power and prestige. Hierarchy rank or hierarchy is central to
the definition of social stratification, another property that. The members of these groups must identify
with these groups, with one of these groups. If the groups are such that they are only
nominal, statistical, empirical and the members of the group do not identify closely with
these groups, then also there is no social stratification. If whites do not consider
themselves to be white, and black do not consider them to be black and their identity of white,
and black does not affect their behavior then there is no social stratification on the basis
of race, but when the people belonging to these stable groups which can be ranked in
terms of wealth, power and prestige. And they also have identity, then you have social stratification.
Then another though a smaller condition would be that affects, this stratification or division
of people into a stable groups, this can be ranked hierarchically as high or low in terms
of wealth, power and prestige affects their life chances for opportunities. Life chances
for opportunities, if you belong to a high class your opportunity to get education higher
education, primary, secondary higher all education will be higher if you belong to a low socio
economic group or class your opportunities less.
If you come from the highest wealth quintile your life expectancy is going to be higher,
if you come from the lowest quintile your life expectancy is lower. If you come from
politically powerful class your chance of becoming unemployed for certain duration in
your life is less, if you come from vulnerable sections of society the down trudal, the lower
classes, illiterate, uneducated, poor, rural, low cast your chance of remaining unemployed
for a certain period of time in your youth is higher. So, the stratification affects
life chance, this is what social stratification is.
Basically, these two bullets all types of inequalities do not constitute social stratification,
I have made 2, 3 points today one that all societies have inequality, there is no society
in which there is no difference between man and man or one member of society and another
member, there is no society. Now, some of these differences are natural, some are social,
but ultimately if there is social inequality, then even natural are defined in social only
those natural characteristics lead to social stratification, which have been selected by
society for this purpose. And which become a social basis of inequality,
all types of inequalities do not lead to social stratification, you can have a society where
you have inequality, but no social stratification that will be a kind of society in which some
people are rich. Some are poor no problem some are white, some are black, some are high
cast some are low cast, but the system is so open that life chances of all members of
society are very similar same, it does not matter whether you are white or black.
For children it does not matter whether they come from educated parents or uneducated parents,
if it does not matter for children whether they come from urban areas or rural areas,
then there may be urban rural differences, there may be rich and poor, and there may
be high cast and low cast, but there is no social stratification. Social stratification
arises when there are stable social groups in society. And their stable social groups means, that
there is some kind of closeness close certain social groups are closed, you cannot acquire
membership of these groups. And in sociology we use a term ascribed at the time of birth
certain characteristic, certain of your subsequent social status is are determined by the fact
that you are born in a particular family. In a particular socio-economic condition,
they are ascribed cast is ascribed you are born in a particular cast, and you remain
in that cast lifelong. You can change your religion, you can move from rural to urban
areas, you acquire education, you can become prime minister and president of India, but
your cast will not change that shows the closed nature of certain groups.
So, there may be social inequality, actually on one United States of today a market economy
is often mentioned as an example of an open class system. United States is open, open
means that the degree of mobility between different social groups is very high, a child
of a carpenter can become a professor and a child of a professor can become a carpenter.
If there are equal chances of both then you have an open system, but if you have a society
in which children of social group s 1, will become s 1 only. And children of social group
s 2 will become s 2, if you may move to other groups, but most of them will remain in the
same group then you have a closed system. In practice no society can have hundred percent
closed group or 100 percent open group, but the degree of openness, varies from one type
of social stratification to another. Social stratification may take different forms
in different societies in terms of how many groups are there, there are stable social
groups, but how many 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 if you say capitalists proletariats it is a two
class model that a society, capital society consists of basically two classes capitalist
and proletariats. In a verna model of India there are 5 stable social groups and . An
uncase outside the verna system, 5 groups in the theory of capitalism, you have 2 groups.
In the theory of verna’s you have 5 groups in the racial theory you have 2 groups basically,
whites and blacks. And in sociological theory of industrial society
and post industrial society, you can make several groups. You can say 3 groups upper
class, middle class, lower class on the basis of credential occupation, management position
or you can say 6 classes, upper, upper, lower upper, upper middle, lower middle, upper low
or upper lower and lower, lower, 6 classes then it becomes an empirical. In those African
countries where 3 or 4 major tribes live, and the society is seen to be stratified according
to tribal status, there are these 3 or 4 groups. In several parts of say north east where you
do not have cast, you do not have racial differences, you do not have color differences all are
black or in a given reason overall all are mangolite type or yellowish
If there are two tribes the and and and from two stable groups, in social stratification
of that region, then there are two classes. So, depends number of groups may be different,
degree of openness and closeness may be different. The basis of formation of stable social groups
may be different, in some cases it may be physical strength, some cases honesty like
in traditional Indian society. The basis of prestige or stratification could
be your ability to make sphere judgment, in say context of gram panchayat or cast gram
panchayat, how fear and honest you are. Your ability to express your ideas clearly can
be a basis of stratification high end low end, or it may be income, it may be size of
land, it may be closeness to seat a power, it may be education, it may be skill, it may
be some charisma of your own, it may be legal. So, the basis stratification or the formation
of the stable groups which are ranked hierarchically, can be any physical, religious, spiritual,
economic, educational or credential or legal by law what does the law suggests. Feudal
power was sanctioned by law and pre feudal power was quite often sanctioned by religious.
And today we have a class system, on the basis of ownership of means a production. You can
still have a social stratification, where social all reasons behind social stratification,
religious as a primitive society or relatively more advanced society. Legal as a agricultural
and feudal society, ownership of means a production as in capital society have been removed.
So, China, in China you do not have social stratification on the basis of religion or
law or economic class, means of production has been collectivized. So, the issue of economic
class does not arise, but still there is a stratification there is patriarchy, there
are differences in wealth, education, political power. Some people can more easily get certificate
to my or permission, or approval to migrate from their village to the capital city as
compared to others. And your position to manipulate situation
in society also differs, and there are so many basis of forming stable social grades.
So, that nature of stratification may be different number of groups may be different, relationship
between the groups may be different, the degree to which members of groups identify with these
groups may be different. And to what extent these stable groups affect the life chances
that may also differ. Sometimes this may have no effect on many aspects of this, when fertility
was high in everyone whether, coming from landed aristocracy or from a poor family,
everyone had high fertility everybody had 10 or 11 children.
And when fertility has declined to blow replacement level then again there are no differences
novelty or feudal lords or landed aristocracy, has two children and poor people also have
two children. An a society in which infant mortality has declined, there may be no differences
in infant mortality according to class. If life expectancy has gone above say 70 or 70
it has reached a level of 75 or 80, the differences in life expectancy according to social groups
have declined. So, to what extent a stable groups arranged
hierarchically and producing some kind of consciousness of being part of those groups,
affects life chance may differ from society to society, and from one stage of development
to another, but stratification is a fact of all societies. So, sociologists have tried
to explain this why stratification and in this respect, I will just indicate we will
discuss this more in the next lecture. I will just indicate the basic of one of the theories
of social stratification, which knowingly or unknowingly all of us employ in reflecting
on and in justifying social stratification. And this theory is given by Kingsley Davis
in his book human society, and in a few papers published in some leading sociological journals,
in forties in collaboration with one more sociologist Wilbert Moore, Kingsley Davis
has given this theory. Kingsley Davis says that is a society there are so many rules
R 1, R 2, R 3, R 4, R N or you call them status position Kingsley Davis says there are position
p 1, p 2, p n so many positions and there are also individuals I 1, I 2, I 3, I 4, I
m. Now, you see ideally if these positions or
these roles or statuses, this is a set of positions a set of individuals. If these rules
could be allotted completely randomly, I think you understand the term random, completely
randomly by ensuring that probability of role R 3 going to I 1, I 2, I 3, I 4, I n is same,
same chance of allotment of rule R 1, R 2, R 3, R n to all these individuals, then there
will be no stratification. And when will this happen then the importance
of all the roles for society is same, if all the roles are of same importance to society
and all roles require same degree of training and talent, and all roles are equally pleasant
to perform. If all individuals are equally talented, if all people will show the same
degree of commitment to performing any role. If all of them have the same training or ability
and merit, a more general term would be ability. If there are no differences between roles
and if there are no differences between individuals then any role can be assigned to anyone, and
then there will be no social stratification. If it does not matter if all 125 crores of
Indians, 1.25 billion are equally talented, equally trained, equally committed, equally
capable of doing everything role of a rickshaw puller and role of president of India, role
of a teacher, role of a chemistry teacher, role of a mathematics teacher, role of E N
T expert, radiologist. Then there will be absolutely no problem in
allotment of roles and society will be free from stratification, but we know that roles
differ in importance to society, the role of president of India is much more important
for Indian society, than the role of class four in a bank. And because different roles
required different amount of training and talent, and because all roles are not equally
pleasant to perform, and individuals also differ in talent, commitment, ability, merit,
attitudes, you can make a more general matrix of abilities.
So, what should happen then at an abstract level forget about cast, forget about class,
forget about race, forget about gender, forget about wealth or political power or manipulation
of odd or corruption at an abstract level. All societies will then will have to find
a way of allocating roles to different individuals, in such a way that the most important role
functionally, most important role in society reaches the most talented person. The most
more talented persons in society, should occupy functionally more important roles and not
only occupy, they must have desire to play those roles more contentiously, more with
greater degree of commitments, dedication, more contentiously.
And to ensure that then society has to give different rewards for different roles, not
individuals ultimately these rewards, if there are unequal rewards with roles then it leads
to inequality of class position of individuals, but that is not the goal of role allocation.
That is not the goal of social stratification, the role of social stratification. Social
stratification according to Kingsley Davis at an abstract level, which applies to all
societies is the problem of allocation of roles in such a manner, that the functionally
most important roles are allotted to most capable persons.
And therefore, most capable persons or in relative sense more capable person, should
be motivated to take up more difficult role, functionally more important roles, roles which
are not so pleasant to perform which required dedication sacrifice, sometimes sacrifices
required there may be no such sacrifice in case of doctors and professors, but there
may be sacrifice involved in roles of army commanders. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice
his life for the nation. So, functionally more important roles must be assigned better
rewards, and what can society do we will discuss this in the next lecture.
Society can give more economic reward, society can give more aesthetic incentives, humor
diversion, adventure, opportunity to innovate to be more creative and self respect and ego.
And the moment society does so the moment society allocates sustenance means, salary,
parks, facilities, comfort, housing medical, L T C and society gives more humor and diversion,
initiate more initiative, more scope for decision creativity, and more prestige and self respect
to some then to others you have social stratification. Kingsley Davis claims that all societies are
stratified because of this basic reason, and we will discuss in more detail. This theory
of social stratification it is criticism and Mars theory of stratification, in the next
class you will agree with me that such a theory of social stratification can only be a functional
theory of stratification. Why is it functional? Because it looks at social stratification
from the perspective of larger society, what will help the large society, it is not concerned
about what happens to individuals who are placed in situations or in roles with which
very low rewards, or negative rewards are associated. This theory is concerned about
society that for society to be more effective, rewards must be given on the basis of merit.
And the moment society gives rewards on the basis of merit knowingly or unknowingly, it
produces a stratified society. So, thank you we stop here.

15 thoughts on “Mod-01 Lec-23 Social stratification-I: Social inequality and stratification

  1. I'm student of ignou & sociology was main subject in my course but I was not satisfied with buks ,some theory was gonna out of my mind.. but sir ur lecture give me reason to study with concentration and like addiction..thnqq soo much sir..ur lecture are truly amazing and examples are also suitable in all topics.

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