Differentiate in between open and also closed stratification systemsDistinguish in between caste and also class systemsUnderstand meritocracy as suitable system the stratification

Strata in rock illustrate social stratification. Civilization are sorted, or layered, into social categories. Plenty of factors recognize a person’s social standing, such together income, education, occupation, and age, race, gender, and also even physics abilities. (Photo courtesy of simply a Prairie Boy/flickr)

In the unified States, people like to believe everyone has actually an equal opportunity at success. Come a specific extent, Aaron illustrates the id that tough work and talent—not prejudicial treatment or societal values—determine social rank. This emphasis on self-effort perpetuates the id that civilization control their very own social standing.

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However, sociologists acknowledge that social stratification is a society-wide system that makes inequalities apparent. While there are constantly inequalities in between individuals, sociologists space interested in bigger social patterns. Stratification is not around individual inequalities, but about systematic inequalities based on group membership, classes, and the like. No individual, rich or poor, can be blamed for social inequalities. The structure of society affects a person’s social standing. Although people may support or struggle inequalities, social stratification is created and also supported by culture as a whole.

India used to have a rigid caste system. The world in the shortest caste experienced from extreme poverty and were shunned through society. Some facets of India’s defunct caste device remain socially relevant. In this photo, one Indian mrs of a particular Hindu caste works in construction, and also she demolishes and builds houses. (Photo courtesy that Elessar/flickr)

Caste systems room closed stratification solution in which people can do little or nothing to adjust their social standing. A caste system is one in which human being are born right into their society standing and also will remain in it their whole lives. Civilization are assigned occupations regardless of their talents, interests, or potential. There room virtually no opportunities to enhance a person’s society position.

In the Hindu caste tradition, civilization were meant to work in the occupation of your caste and to get in into marriage according to their caste. Accepting this society standing was taken into consideration a ethical duty. Cultural values reinforced the system. Caste equipment promote beliefs in fate, destiny, and also the will certainly of a higher power, quite than fostering individual liberty as a value. A person who stayed in a caste culture was socialized to expropriate his or she social standing.

Although the caste device in India has actually been officially dismantled, that residual presence in Indian society is deep embedded. In countryside areas, aspects of the heritage are more likely come remain, while city centers show less evidence of this past. In India’s larger cities, world now have much more opportunities to pick their very own career paths and marriage partners. As a an international center that employment, corporations have actually introduced merit-based hiring and also employment come the nation.

The class System

A class system is based upon both social factors and also individual achievement. A class consists of a set of human being who share comparable status with regard to components like wealth, income, education, and also occupation. Unlike caste systems, course systems are open. People are complimentary to acquire a different level of education and learning or employment 보다 their parents. Lock can additionally socialize with and also marry members of various other classes, which allows people to move from one class to another.

In a course system, occupation is not fixed at birth. Though family and other societal models aid guide a person toward a career, personal choice dram a role.

In class systems, human being have the choice to type exogamous marriages, unions of couple from different social categories. Marital relationship in these scenarios is based on values such as love and compatibility quite than on social standing or economics. Despite social conformities still exist the encourage civilization to choose partners within their own class, civilization are no as pressured to select marriage partners based specifically on those elements. Marriage to a companion from the same social lift is an endogamous union.


Meritocracy is an ideal system based upon the belief that society stratification is the result of personal effort—or merit—that determines society standing. High levels of effort will cause a high society position, and vice versa. The ide of meritocracy is one ideal—because a culture has never ever existed wherein social rank was based completely on merit. Due to the fact that of the complicated structure of societies, processes favor socialization, and the realities of economic systems, society standing is affected by multiple factors—not merit alone. Inheritance and also pressure come conform come norms, because that instance, disrupt the concept of a pure meritocracy. While a meritocracy has never existed, sociologists see facets of meritocracies in modern-day societies once they research the role of scholastic and project performance and the equipment in ar for examining and rewarding achievement in these areas.

Status Consistency

Social stratification systems identify social position based upon factors favor income, education, and occupation. Sociologists use the term status consistency to describe the consistency, or lack thereof, of an individual’s rank throughout these factors. Caste equipment correlate with high standing consistency, conversely, the an ext flexible course system has actually lower status consistency.

To illustrate, let’s take into consideration Susan. Susan earned she high school degree however did not go to college. That factor is a properties of the lower-middle class. She began doing landscaping work, which, as hands-on labor, is additionally a trait of lower-middle class or also lower class. However, end time, Susan started her very own company. She rental employees. She won larger contracts. She ended up being a service owner and also earned a lot of money. Those traits stand for the upper-middle class. There room inconsistencies between Susan’s education level, her occupation, and also her income. In a course system, a person can work hard and have small education and also still be in center or top class, conversely, in a caste mechanism that would certainly not it is in possible. In a course system, low status consistency correlates v having an ext choices and opportunities.

Prince William, duke of Cambridge, that is in heat to it is in king the England, married Catherine Middleton, a so-called commoner, an interpretation she go not have actually royal ancestry. (Photo courtesy that UK_repsome/flickr)

On April 29, 2011, in London, England, Prince William, duke of Cambridge, married Catherine Middleton, a commoner. It is rare, though not unheard of, because that a member of the brother royal household to marry a commoner. Kate Middleton has actually an upper-class background, however does not have royal ancestry. Her father to be a former trip dispatcher and also her mother a former trip attendant and also owner that Party Pieces. Follow to grace Wong’s 2011 article titled, “Kate Middleton: A family service that built a princess,” “he organization grew come the allude where battered his task . . . And also it’s progressed from a mom-and-pop outfit run out the a melted . . . Into a endeavor operated the end of 3 converted farm structures in Berkshire.” Kate and William met once they were both students at the college of St. Andrew in Scotland (Köhler 2010).

Britain’s monarchy emerged during the center Ages. The social pecking order placed nobility at the top and commoners on the bottom. This was usually a closeup of the door system, with people born right into positions the nobility. Wealth was passed from generation come generation with primogeniture, a law stating that all property would be inherited through the firstborn son. If the family had no son, the land visited the following closest male relation. Women can not inherit property, and their society standing to be primarily established through marriage.

The arrival of the Industrial change changed Britain’s social structure. Commoners relocated to cities, got jobs, and also made much better livings. Gradually, world found new opportunities to rise their wealth and power. Today, the federal government is a constitutional monarchy with the prime minister and also other ministers chosen to their positions, and also with the imperial family’s function being mainly ceremonial. The long-ago differences in between nobility and commoners have actually blurred, and the modern class mechanism in brother is comparable to that of the United says (McKee 1996).

Today, the royal family still commands wealth, power, and also a great deal of attention. As soon as Queen Elizabeth II retires or passes away, Prince Charles will certainly be first in heat to ascend the throne. If the abdicates (chooses not to come to be king) or dies, the place will walk to Prince William. If that happens, Kate Middleton will certainly be referred to as Queen Catherine and also hold the place of queen consort. She will certainly be one of the couple of queens in background to have actually earned a college level (Marquand 2011).

There is a good deal that social push on she not just to behave as a imperial but additionally to be affected by each other children. In fact, Kate and also Prince William welcomed their an initial son, Prince George, on July 22, 2013 and also are expecting their 2nd child. The royal family recently adjusted its sequence laws to allow daughters, not simply sons, to ascend the throne. Kate’s experience—from commoner to potential queen—demonstrates the fluidity that social position in modern-day society.


Stratification systems are either closed, definition they allow little change in social position, or open, an interpretation they allow movement and interaction in between the layers. A caste system is one in which society standing is based on ascribed status or birth. Class systems are open, with accomplishment playing a function in society position. Human being fall into classes based upon factors favor wealth, income, education, and occupation. A meritocracy is a mechanism of society stratification the confers stand based on an individual worth, lucrative effort.

Short Answer

Track the society stratification of your household tree. Did the society standing of her parents differ from the social standing of her grandparents and also great-grandparents? What social traits were handed under by her forebears? are there any exogamous marriages in your history? does your household exhibit standing consistencies or inconsistencies?What defines communities that have low status consistency? What are the ramifications, both positive and also negative, of societies with low status consistency? try to think of certain examples to assistance your ideas.Review the ide of stratification. Now choose a team of world you have actually observed and been a component of—for example, cousins, high college friends, classmates, sports teammates, or coworkers. How does the framework of the social team you made decision adhere to the concept of stratification?


caste systema mechanism in which human being are born right into a society standing the they will retain their whole livesclassa team who share a typical social status based upon factors choose wealth, income, education, and occupationclass systemsocial standing based upon social factors and also individual accomplishmentsendogamous marriagesunions of human being within the same social categoryexogamous unionsunions of couple from various social categoriesincomethe money a person earns from work or investmentsmeritocracyan ideal system in which personal effort—or merit—determines society standingprimogeniturea law stating the all residential or commercial property passes to the firstborn sonsocial stratificationa socioeconomic mechanism that divides society’s members right into categories ranking native high come low, based on things favor wealth, power, and prestigestatus consistencythe consistency, or absence thereof, of an individual’s rank across social categories favor income, education, and also occupationwealththe worth of money and assets a person has actually from, for example, inheritance

Further Research

The New York Times investigated social stratification in their collection of articles called “Class Matters.” The virtual accompaniment to the series includes an interaction graphic called “How course Works,” i beg your pardon tallies 4 factors—occupation, education, income, and also wealth—and areas an individual in ~ a certain class and also percentile. What course describes you? check your course rank on the interaction site: http://openstaxcollege.org/l/NY_Times_how_class_works


McKee, Victoria. 1996. “Blue Blood and also the shade of Money.” New York Times, June 9.

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Marquand, Robert. 2011. “What Kate Middleton’s Wedding come Prince William might Do because that Britain.” Christian scientific research Monitor, April 15. Retrieved January 9, 2012 (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2011/0415/What-Kate-Middleton-s-wedding-to-Prince-William-could-do-for-Britain).