Social differentiation is a universal characteristic because the division of some functions is necessary in a society. Some of these are biological but most of these are socially fixed. in every society, individuals are different in terms of profession, material possession, honour, prestige, authority, beliefs and other characteristics. This difference of individuals provides a mechanism of dividing into different classes which is called stratification.
According to sociologists, this study is very important because it seriously affects the institutional relations and social interaction.
Stratification is the product of social inequality and is a relatively permanent position of the society, is transmitted from one race to another, limits the chances of progress. Its ways are different in different societies and are changeable with social changes and sometimes this stratification becomes a cause
Definitions of Social Stratification
1. CH. Persell :
“Social stratification is the fairly permanent making of position in a society in terms of unequal power, prestige or privileges.”
He further says that "The unequal opportunities or rewards are for people in different social positions."
2. RT. Schaefer :
Stratification, a structure ranking of entire groups of people that perpetuate unequal economic rewards and powers in a society.
3. Ian Robertson :
Social stratification is the structured inequality of entire categories of people, who have different access to social rewards as a result of their status in social hierarchy."
4. Augburn and Nimkoff :
“Social stratification is a class division of society of permanent group position which is admitted by the superior or inferior individual of a society."
5. Gilbert :
Social stratification is group division of a society and there is difference of superiority or inferiority among the individual."
Determinants of Social Stratification
1. Wealth :
The presence of wealth is the element of stratification in the societies of the world. Wealth has two ingredients:
1. Ownership of land.
2. Sources of income (pay or profit).
The people who own economic resources of getting wealth, they have a superior status in the society. The concept of wealth is different in different societies. In agrarian society, land is important sources of wealth whereas industrial societies have sources of income. That is why, in the industrial societies some servants and some traders without any ownership have big wealth and have an important place in the society.
2. Power and Authority :
Power is that capability that makes others subordinate to a person. .The power can be legitimate authority or a traditional authority. In modern societies, political status is also a source of power and authority which is called political power. Especially in democratic system of govt, it has great importance. In all societies, the division of power is unequal, giving rise to social stratification. The more the legal, traditional or political power an individual or a group has in a society, the more the determination of the social stratification. Just as DIO or Deputy ‘or Member of National Assembly or leader of a political or religious party have great social position in the Pakistani society and have higher status in the social stratification.
3. Occupation :
Occupation attachment especially, in agrarian and traditional societies, plays a very important role in the stratification. A period extending over centuries in the social life has determined the social status through social interaction as to which of the profession is superior and which is inferior and societies determine their stratification on the basis of profession without considering the personal status of individuals.
Dom Hoff says: “In traditional societies occupation determines the stratification whereas in modern industrial societies professions are of no low status and there are not looked upon with hatred and because of this,
profession does not become a cause of any distinction treatment." In Indian and Pakistani society, even today occupation is considered an important factor, in stratification. Blacksmiths, carpenters and pottery-makers are considered in village societies lower than agriculturists and in an urban society a motor mechanic is considered lower than a food inspector.
4. Caste :
Caste system is a closed and heredity system, having importance in certain societies for stratification because an individual’s honour, prestige and social relation depend on his caste. In the Sub-continent, the caste system of Hindus is thought as a determining factor in the stratification but in modern industrial society and in the post industrial society, caste is not considered, but in American society, colour and race has the same importance which is in the Sub-continent society of Hindus between Brahmin and Shoodur. In Pakistan, some castes are traditionally thought superior and inferior to stratification which is above.
5. Prestige and Popularity :
An eminent deed of an individual of a society becomes a cause of his honour and an increase of his regard in most of the population; This gives a superior status in the stratification whereas ignoring or unpopularity decreases the status in the society. In Pakistani society, cricket, hockey, squash, martyrs of armed forces and atomic scientists because of their eminent performance get a popularity, honour and love ‘in the heads of the people whereas people accepting bribe, politicians, dacoits and drug traffickers are considered hateful and inferior in the eyes of the people.