In Indian society, social inequality was created due to the division among the people on the basis of wealth, power, talent or hard work. Such differences were created by our society only. According to Sociologists the term ‘social stratification’ means the system where people are positioned on the basis of their status or authority creating people’s identity, experiences, their relations with others, and also decides their access to resources and opportunities. In other words, they are ranked in a hierarchy in society.
The three key principles of social stratification are as follows:
• Social stratification is not just a function for the individual difference but is a characteristic of a society – it means that the differences created or ranked was the decision of the society and not an individual choice. Social resources are unequally distributed among the different categories of people. For example – people in the hunting and gathering society produced according to their consumption unlikely today where people are producing more than their needs or consumption. Thus, resources are divided unequally among the people in spite of the individual’s inherent abilities.
• Social stratification is continuing from generation to generation – This implies that social stratification where social resources are inherited from one generation to another. The social position of the individual is ascribed for example – what the child gets from his parents like caste, the birth of the child defines his/her occupational opportunities, etc. Like it was considered that Dalits are supposed to acquire the traditional occupation like agricultural labour, scavenging, leather work, etc. We also found the existence of the tradition of endogamy existed, i.e., marrying within the caste, community or clan. This is to ensure that a principle of caste is no more ruined due to inter-marriage.
• Social stratification is supported by a prototype of belief or ideology– Also, social stratification was based on the belief system or ideology that is continued to exist from generations to generation. For example – the system of caste system came up due to the belief that Brahmins had of being superior to other castes and created this division based on castes so to remain pure and not get polluted (impure). Because of this Dalits became the inferior based on their birth and occupation.
Such social stratification based on caste or class was supported by the people with maximum social privileges, whereas the people who were the witnesses of social exploitation and comes at the bottom of the hierarchy challenges such social stratification.
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