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Define Social Stratification. Compare Stratification in the U.S. with That of India

3 pages
711 words
Harvey Mudd College
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Social stratification can be defined as the hierarchal rank for social classes whereby individuals in the society are grouped based on the socioeconomic conditions (Haviland, Prins, Walrath, & McBride, 2013). One social class lacks access to equivalent status, power, or resources compared to another. Social stratification emerged from the surplus of resources, particularly the ones derived from food production as production became better with the invention and use of agricultural techniques, and thus, greater surplus led to greater stratification. In essence, individuals who achieved higher social status were the people who benefited more from other hardworking peoples work only for them to be ranked lower in the hierarchy.

Social exclusion and social inequalities are derived from social stratification. Social exclusions include discrimination inclined by ethnicity, class, gender, and age. Similarly, common areas of inequality are freedom of assembly and speech, voting rights, the levels of access to education and property rights, and health care among other social goods. All these inequalities and exclusions reduce the opportunities available for social groups which can be used to have access to vital resources like education, housing, employment, healthcare, political participation, and religion. The social groups are separated into classes or castes and to some extent, there is ethnic separation. Personal inequalities such as kindness or intelligence qualities do not cause stratification. Stratification also leads to unusual and different treated of people in the society based on social status or societal roles.

In the US, we have the open-class society system. The public is thought to be equal in relation to other three classes, namely, high society, the lower class, and working class. Individuals in the bottom-most class can work their way up the social ladder because the society offers them the chance that is not the case with Hindu framework where the Varna one is born into is destined to be their permanent level for the rest of their life. In American culture, one is expected to take necessary actions to change their social class (Gilbert 2017).

In India, people rely on the caste system, which is because of ascribed statuses. Such statuses are characteristics or traits that individuals possess in relation to their birth. Additionally, ascribed statuses may include race, body type, gender, and age. This type of system ranks individuals rigidly. That means that regardless of what an individual does, they can never change castes. However, people may attempt to compensate for the attributed statuses through changing their respective nationality, undergoing some plastic surgery in a bid to change their body size, or lying on various aspects including their own age. Similarly, this strategy may work in some societies and fail in others.

At the highest point of the framework are Brahmins. Brahmins are mostly ministers and educators. The general population at this level is viewed as the best in the Varna system. Kshatriyas are one level lower than Brahmins. Generally, this Varna population is viewed as the monarchs. Dealers and brokers form the next level that bears the name Vaisyas. The general population in this Varna manages business and farming. At the bottom-most part of the social ladder are the Shudras. The general population in this Varna includes artisans and dealers (Gilbert, 2017). According to Doob (2015), the general population in the Varna offers service to those in the Varnas above them. Shudras make their living by working hard.

In conclusion, social stratification refers to the long-standing inequalities in status, power, and wealth between groups in a given society. In a basic evolutionary sense, Americas stratification is a direct inverse of India's structure of social stratification which is viewed as "longest serving social chain of importance in the world known as the Hindu Caste System which is divided into four Varna levels which are indicated by the "Spiritual or religious status." For some societies, religion is considered as the ascribed status. However, American citizens may convert into various other religions while in other places individuals may not adopt another religion apart from the one they were born into.



Doob, C. B. (2015). Social inequality and social stratification in US society. Routledge.

Gilbert, D. L. (2017). The American class structure in an age of growing inequality. Sage Publications.

Haviland, W. A., Prins, H. E., Walrath, D., & McBride, B. (2013). Anthropology: The human challenge. Cengage Learning.


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