Stratification is a very general term referring to a hierarchy of inequality. Traditionally, the term has been applied mostly to societal rather than to other types of social systems. There has been disagreement among analysis in the stratification sense, there is general agreement that it involves “economic”, prestige, and power differences or some combination of them.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- define and fully describe social stratification
- describe the stratification dimension
- describe the bases on which people are stratified.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 Definition of Social Stratification
Social stratification is defined as the unequal distribution of attributes, qualities, or possessions among members of a society that at usually regarded within that society as desirable and valuable.
3.2 Stratification Dimension
Now, that you have been exposed to what is meant by stratification, then there is need to discuss the pattern of stratification within a society. In reality, social scientists make use of three dimensions, namely: (i) Class (ii) Status (iii) Power
Class: This refers to the relative amount of money, wealth and other economic goods that a person or social group possesses.
Status: This refers to the relative degree of prestige and priviledge that a person or social group can successfully claim from other members of the society.
Power: This refers to the ability of ensuring compliance among members of a group.
SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1
Explain the three dimensions of stratification that social scientists use.
3.3 Basis on which People are Stratified
Practically, some factors have been considered important for stratification to work effectively. These factors include:
- Power (e.g. political, military or economic power)
- Income (amount, type of and sources)
- Ethnic status, religion, and race
- Education, learning and wisdom.
- Ownership of property,
- Occupation or skill, and achievement in it, etc.
SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 2
Describe the basis on which people are stratified.
Social stratification is a persistent social fact in the modem societies today. For example, functionalists hold that social stratification is an inevitable and necessary element of modem societies.
In this unit, effort has been made to define social stratification, describing the stratification dimension and bases on which people are being stratified. Social stratification has been seen as the division of a society into layers (or strata) whose occupants have unequal access to social opportunities and rewards. In a stratified society, social inequality is institutionalised; that is, it is part of the social structure and is passed from one generation to another.
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
- What do you understand by social stratification?
- Describe what you understand by stratification dimension.
- Describe what you understand by bases on which people are stratified.