Stratification Systems: Castes and Social Class

Published: 2021-07-02 21:53:22
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Stratification systems define the ways in which a society exist in several groups of people based on their social and economic status, profession and revenue, financial and social status and their political influence. Stratification exists globally but occurs differently in different societies. Social stratification not only characterizes inequality but also features the societal beliefs. Stratification features the various traits in the society and passes from one generation to the other. There exist several forms of stratification systems in the modern society. The most common forms of stratification systems include the castes system and the class system. The two systems differ in various ways.

The class system involves an open system in which social stratification divides people into different subsets whose members possess different levels of access to the societys resources (Berente, Gal, & Hansen, 2010). The class system has economic and cultural variations existing among the different subsets. On the other hand, the castes system also features the division of the population into various social categories with different rights to use certain features. People born in a poor background will not have access to certain resources and services that people born rich will have access. There is a similarity in both the class and the caste system in the different levels of accessibility to social resources by the various social groups.

The open social class system also possesses the social mobility trait. Social mobility exists due to the existence of different education among other opportunities. Social mobility also involves the change from one societal class to another, for example, a poor person in the lower class acquiring wealth and entering the upper class. The caste system is among the closed stratification systems. In the caste system, people are born into the various societal categories based on their familys status in which they will remain for the rest of their lives (Zacharias, &Vakulabharanam, 2011). Unlike the social class stratification system, which features social mobility in the societal classes, the caste system has a low or no social mobility.

Also, the class system is open to the change in classes in which an individual or group can move from one class to another. The class system has social mobility in which an individuals hard work and success defines their position and rank in the society (Berente, Gal, & Hansen, 2010). An individual with the ability to work hard and acquire riches can move from the lower class to the upper. Lazy people in the society would also fall lower from their class level. On the other hand, the caste system has no social mobility in which one born in a poor background has to accept their fate. In the caste system, an individual cannot shape their destiny nor advance in their class.

The United States of America integrates the open class system. Most industrial societies such as the United States feature the class system, which supports social mobility. The class system in the United States splits the people into different classes based on their economic and financial status. The class system in the United States has three categories including the lower class, the middle class, and the upper class.

In conclusion, the caste and the social class stratification systems have several similarities and differences. The variations in the stratification systems involve the social mobility feature in the social categories created by the stratification systems. Social mobility encompasses the change from one social class or group to another. The social class system features social mobility while the caste system has low or no mobility. The United States of America integrates the social class stratification system in which there are three social classes. Social stratification features inequality among the various social categories.


Berente, N., Gal, U., & Hansen, S. (2010). Ethical implications of social stratification in information systems research. Information Systems Journal, 21(4), 357-382.

Witt, J. 2016. SOC 2016: Social Class in the United States. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill,

Zacharias, A., & Vakulabharanam, V. (2011). Caste stratification and wealth inequality in India. World Development, 39(10), 1820-1833.

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