In all societies, material and symbolic rewards are distributed in unequal proportions and every society strives to find an answer to this unequal distribution of resources. Social Stratification is defined as systematic form of inequality…
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In days before industrial age social stratification was treated as normal. It was considered that some people on earth are there to indulge in slavery in terms of their race or ethnicity. In the same way it was considered that between male and female, one gender would dominate the other. These sorts of views where inequality in society was considered as natural, there was no urge to investigate on social stratification. (Crompton, 1998, p. 1) The paper attempts to analyze the different perspectives of social class. Social Stratification Apart from the stratification explained above, there is a second view of inequality wherein it is considered as divine structure of society. For example in India there is Hindu caste system. In this system the people of lower castes face many restrictions as they are thought to be ineligible to mix with the higher caste. Thus caste system also gives rise to social inequality. (Crompton, 1998, p. 2) There is also material inequality, which is justified as divine law. It was considered natural that the “best” should be getting the major rewards of the society. Western Europe was basically a rural society from ninth century onwards, where the social status of an individual was determined by the amount of land he owns and the church mainly controlled it. The church had the benefit of both economic and moral strength. The preaching of the church was that God gave land so that people can live on the earth for achieving eternal salvation. The church’s view was that one should not seek for riches as that is considered as greed and poverty is thought to be divine. (Crompton, 1998, p.2) In primitive society, concentration of wealth in the hands of few was contributed to social stratification. Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, capitalism developed in the Western Europe and in most other parts of the world. The advent of capitalism paved the way for modern society in which the traditional explanations of social inequality were faced with criticisms. (Crompton, 1998, pp.2,3) The concept of inequality due to birth was opposed with the justification that every human being on earth is born equal. This gave rise to explanation of inequality from social perspective. The question arose that if equality is considered as natural condition of human beings and if everyone is gifted with equal rights, then what gives the right to some people to dominate the others. Social contract theorists provided the answers to some of these questions. According to Hobbes (1588-1679), that life in general is nasty and short and is chracterised by war between men of different statures. To maintain peace in the society and to avoid chaos, submission to the situation is the best thing to do. According to Locke (1632-1704), it is the state’s authority to protect the natural rights of individuals in regard to life and property. Rousseau (1712-18) did not believe that social equality could be achieved. According to him, direct democracy can provide the best protection to people. (Crompton, 1998, p.3) Principles of Social Class Every human society of any country has unequal structure of society. In every society, in the past or in the present, there has been unequal distribution of goods and services. From this it can be assumed that some inevitable factors lead to such social arrangements. There are some services in the society that require certain skill from people. There can be talent in many people for performing many services but to convert those talents into skills it requires long periods of training that calls for some kinds of sacrifices. To encourage the people to undergo such trainings they must be promised of equal privileges in the future positions. For instance, in a factory, it is not ethically correct
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