The multitudes were serfs. 1. The ruling class engages in welfare activities like making charitable schools, hospitals etc. Difference between rich and poor, the ‘haves’ or ‘have notes’ is evident everywhere. Social stratification comes naturally to society. The Western societies are highly developed; it is attributed to the fact that these societies adopted open system of stratification. Prestige means the extent to which a person is looked up or looked down or regarded as the sort of person to be admired or emulated or, on the other hand treated with contempt. They enjoy or suffer from the unequal distribution of rewards in societies as members of different social groups. Difference in income leads to very unequal standard of life. Image Courtesy : artsonline.monash.edu.au/sociology/files/2013/06/Sociology-Function-DSC_6425.jpg. The differentiation between classes existed as early as the Indus Valley society. As time went on, slavery became part of the past. Health care, education,’ income and positions of prominence are a few of the advantages. Weber says that status groups are formed on the basis of common amount of socially ascribed prestige or honour. There has been no society in which every individual has the same rank and the same privileges. This functional base has given rise to sub castes. They have to agree with what they are told is good for them. The church followed suit. In simpler communities we may not find any class strata apart from the distinction between members of the groups and strangers, distinction based on age, sex kinship. Classless society is just an ideal. It has been contended by them that social stratification inevitably occurs in any complex society, particularly in an industrial society and it serves some ‘Vital functions’ in such societies. This mechanism is social stratification. But once Europeans began exploring the Western Hemisphere in the 1500s, slavery regained its popularity. About the selection for ruling positions he advocated inequality in situation is legitimate so long as there has been equality of opportunity to become unequal. Hindu society in traditional India was divided into five main strata: four Varnas and fifth group, the out caste or untouchables. All stratification systems have some common elements. Disclaimer 9. The question of the form in which the revolutionary process was to occur by peaceful or violence means. Those persons who work hard and are intelligent move up in the social ladder. In short, we can say that social stratification has both positive and negative functions. In Europe society was divided into land lords and serfs. Social stratification becomes relevant in this area of desired and scarce rewards. There are some tasks which require training or skills and there are limited number of individuals with ability to acquire such skill. Ranking is a selective process in the sense that only some statuses are selected for comparative ranking and of all criteria of ranking only some are actually used in ranking process e.g. Estate system is synonymous with feudalism, which remained basis of social stratification in Europe from the fall of Roman Empire to the rise of the commercial classes generally and to the French Revolution (1989) particularly. During slavery, stratification was mainly determined by race & colour of one’s skin (ascribed statuses). It is not that there is no conflict between the highly rewarded and those who receive little reward. The positions are unequal with regard to power, property, evaluation and psychic gratification. Power refers to the extent to which a person can influence or command the action of others, make his will effective and make decisions. Every society is at every point subject to processes of change, social change is ubiquitous. In tribal systems too, there existed hierarchy. Those persons with higher level of intelligence can perform more complicated functions of the society. Radcliffe Brown says that among hunting societies three groups usually are accorded special prestige: the elderly, those with supernatural powers, those who have special personal attributes such as hunting skill. A serf is less unfree than a slave. Life styles include the mode of housing, residential area, education, means of recreation, relation between parent and children, modes of conveyance and so on. All human societies from the simple to the most complex have some form of social inequality. Weber suggested three types of market situations (i) labour market, (ii) money market, and (iii) commodity market. Dahrendorf argued that Marxist analysis is not applicable to post capitalist society. Achievements of an individual mostly decide his status. Social classes, says Ginsberg, may be described as portions of the community, or collection of individuals, standing to each other in the relation of quality and marked of from other persons by accepted standards of superiority and inferiority. In many societies there are also marked differences in the distribution of wealth. This value consensus is the societal dimension crucial to evaluation stratification. FORMS OF STRATIFICATION 1. On the other hand, those who fail to come up to the expectations move downward. Therefore high reward is necessary to provide incentive to encourage people to undergo training for a position to compensate them for the sacrifice involved. He gives more importance to Status, Prestige and Power. These criticism are true but they cannot be regarded as complete refutation of the functionalist theory of stratification. 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