In all societies people differ from each other on the basis of their age, sex and personal characteristics. Human society is not homogeneous but heterogeneous. Apart from the natural differences, human beings are also differentiated according to socially approved criteria.
Social stratification is a particular form of social inequality. All societies arrange their members in terms of superiority, inferiority and equality. Stratification is a process of interaction or differentiation whereby some people come to rank higher than others.
Social stratification means division of society into different strata or layers. It involves a hierarchy of social groups. Members of a particular layer have a common identity. They have a similar life style. The Indian Caste system provides an example of stratification system.
Modern stratification fundamentally differs from stratification of primitive societies. Social stratification involves two phenomena
(i) differentiation of individuals or groups on the basis of possession of certain characteristics whereby some individuals or groups come to rank higher than others,
ii) the ranking of individuals according to some basis of evaluation.
Sociologists are concerned not merely with the facts of social differences but also with their social evaluation.
‘The process by which individuals and groups are ranked in more or less enduring hierarchy of status is known as stratification”
Social Stratification refers to “The ranking of individuals on a scale of superiority-inferiority-equality, according to some commonly accepted basis of valuation.
(i) According to Davis, social stratification has come into being due to the functional necessity of the social system.
(ii) Professor Sorokin attributed social stratification mainly to inherited difference in environmental conditions.
(iii) According to Karl Mrax, social factors are responsible for social strata, i.e. social stratification.
(vi) Racial differences accompanied by dissimilarity also leads to stratification.
Social stratification is based upon a variety of principles. So we find different type of stratification.
The major types of stratification are