Systems the Stratification

Sociologists distinguish between two systems of stratification. Closed systems accommodate small change in society position and also are typically based on ascribed status or part trait native birth. They do not allow people to change levels and do not permit society relationships between levels. Open systems, which are based upon achievement, allow movement and interaction in between layers and also classes. These different systems reflect, emphasize, and foster certain cultural values and shape individual beliefs. Part stratification systems include slavery, caste systems, feudal/estate systems, and class systems.

You are watching: Within slave society, evidence suggests that the highest social status was ascribed to


In assessing social stratification, we can begin by looking at slavery in the U.S., i m sorry was based on race and resulted in a society stratification system—people were no enslaved because of crimes they committed, fan they owed, or lost wars. Chattel slavery occurs when one human being owns one more as property. Slaves to be taken from West Africa start in the 17th century and brought come U.S. Colonies, largely to work as laborers in the growing agricultural economy. The system was preserved by birth, so youngsters born to slaves were immediately slaves and also considered property–or “chattel”–of the slaveowner.

While the servant trade to be discontinued in 1808, enslavement was not abolished till the 13th revised was validated in 1865 (the very same year the Civil battle ended), and vestiges of enslavement persisted with the restoration era and beyond<1>. The gyeongju stratification of Americans continued through Jim Crow distinction laws, i beg your pardon faded in the 1950s and 1960s together the polite Rights motion emerged, and also through the judge lease system, which was likewise gradually phased the end in the 20th century. The southern African apartheid device is another example of social stratification based on race, or skin color. Apartheid officially started in 1948, and gave the minority white population political and cultural power, when oppressing Blacks, “Coloured” (i.e., people of combined race), Indian, and also Asian peoples. That did not end until 1994. Both of these systems offered race to justification closed equipment of stratification.

The global watchdog team Anti-Slavery global recognizes other forms of slavery: person trafficking (in which world are relocated away from your communities and also forced come work versus their will), child residential work and child labor, and specific forms the servile marriage, in which ladies are effectively property, or chattel servants (Anti-Slavery international 2012).

Another kind of slavery is debt bondage, or bonded labor, in i m sorry the negative pledge themselves together servants in exchange because that the price of straightforward necessities prefer transportation, room, and board. In this scenario, people are paid much less than they room charged because that room and also board. When travel is required, they can arrive in debt for their take trip expenses and be can not to work their method free, since their wages perform not allow them to ever before get ahead.

Further REsearch

People often think the the United claims is immune come the atrocity of person trafficking. Learn an ext about smuggling in the united States.

Learn an ext information about ongoing practices of enslavement in the contemporary world.

The heritage System

The ninth century gave rise to feudal societies. These societies had a strict ordered system of power based about land ownership and also protection. The nobility, well-known as lords, put vassals in fee of pieces of land dubbed fiefdoms. In return for the sources that the land detailed and a guaranteed ar to live, vassals promised come fight for your lords. Feudalism was a closed mechanism where land ownership was inherited. The peasants who worked the land served lords for generations and also generations as the legacy system hierarchy was automatically reproduced in ~ birth.

Like enslavement in the U.S., a person’s birth established his or her social standing. In the legacy system, this supposed a person can be born a peasant, a commoner, or with access to an ext property and opportunity, such as a member the the priest or nobility might have. The justification because that this rigid power structure was often based on certain spiritual beliefs, specifically that the “divine right,” or the idea that some men rule by God’s will. Ultimately, the social and also economic mechanism of feudalism failed and was replaced by capitalism and also the technological advances that the commercial era.

The Caste System

Figure 1. India used to have a rigid caste system. The world in the shortest caste endured from excessive poverty and also were shunned by society. Some facets of India’s defunct caste device remain socially relevant. In this photo, one Indian woman of a certain Hindu caste functions in construction, and she demolishes and builds houses. (Photo courtesy that Elessar/flickr)

Caste systems are closed stratification solution in which people can do tiny or nothing to adjust their society standing. A caste system is one in which human being are born right into their social standing category, or “caste,” and will continue to be in that their totality lives. Civilization are assigned occupations nevertheless of your talents, interests, or potential. There room virtually no methods to boost a person’s society position.

In the Hindu caste tradition, world were intended to job-related in the occupation of your caste and to get in into marital relationship according to your caste. Endogamy refers to the exercise of marrying in ~ one’s own caste category. Accepting this social standing was considered a ethical duty. Cultural values reinforced the system. Caste systems promote beliefs in fate, destiny, and the will certainly of a greater power, quite than fostering individual freedom as a value. A human being who stayed in a caste society was socialized to accept his or she social standing.

Although the caste device in India has actually been officially dismantled, that is residual presence in Indian culture is deep embedded. In countryside areas, facets of the heritage are more likely to remain, while metropolitan centers display less proof of this past. In India’s bigger cities, world now have an ext opportunities to select their very own career paths and also marriage partners. With India’s development as an financial power, corporations have actually introduced merit-based hiring and also employment requirements to the nation.

Watch It

Finish the town hall the selected clip indigenous this video to learn more about types of stratification systems.

The class System

A class system is an open up system based on both social factors and individual achievement. Individuals in ~ a course system are free to acquire a various level of education or employed from that of their parents, and can socialize with and marry members of various other classes. The class system has fluid boundaries–think of “rags to riches” stories, or story of rich and an effective people being lugged low with criminal conviction for crimes such together fraud, insider trading, murder, or extortion.

Class is figured out by wealth and income and is considered an achieved status, or one which is earned. Wealth describes the total value of money and assets such together property and also stocks, whereas income refers come the money a human being earns from occupational and/or investments. A person have the right to have a many wealth but tiny income (i.e., someone v a trust money or inheritance), and also conversely, someone have the right to have a huge income yet very little wealth (i.e., someone that spends as lot as castle make, yet does no purchase building or invest). 

Max Weber established the complying with three materials in class systems that stratification: class, status, and power (1922). Class, as stated above, has wealth and income. Standing is the prestige or respect accorded to one’s position and/or come one’s name. Power is the ability to exert one’s will over others. One can examine chairman Donald Trump together an separation, personal, instance who has reached few of the greatest levels of class, status, and power. The president of the United claims (POTUS) is often described as the most powerful politician in the world, and one the the key duties the POTUS is come oversee the U.S. Equipped forces, which itself involves an extraordinary amount of power.

Weber’s views on course differed with those held by Marx, who viewed culture as composed of the two classes that bourgeoisie (owners that the way of production) and also the proletariat (workers). Weber thought economic position was important, but additionally emphasized status and also power as important components for expertise the class system. One Olympic yellow Medalist for example, could enjoy a high status, and also may additionally increase she income and wealth with endorsements with big brands choose Nike or Adidas, however this does not necessarily do them powerful.

Another sociological perspective distinguishes the classes, in part, follow to the family member power and control they have actually over their own lives. In this view, the top classes no only have actually power and also control over their very own lives yet their social status likewise gives castle power and control over the resides of others. Consider the 1% and also the disproportionate political strength that billionaires hold in making decision that impact other peoples’ lives. 

The Weberian framework is an especially helpful in examining the interconnectedness the class, status, and power, and also how these components influence course stratification. Consider decisions concerning health care. Many middle class jobs include health and dental insurance, which permit individuals and families to have a greater degree of manage over health-related decisions. In contrast, the working class and the working poor have less regulate over their work-related or health care decisions, and also often struggle to acquire and also maintain accessibility to health insurance. The lowest classes are consisted of of world in society who have the the very least amount of control over their lives. 


Meritocracy is suitable system based on the id that social stratification is the result of an individual effort—or demonstrated merit—that determines society standing. High level of initiative will result in a high socio-economic position, and vice versa. The principle of meritocracy is one ideal—because a culture has never ever existed where social rank was based purely on merit. Due to the fact that of the complex structure that societies, processes favor socialization, and also the realities of economic systems, society standing is affected by many factors—not merit alone. Inheritance and pressure to conform to norms, because that instance, disrupt the id of a pure meritocracy. While an entirely untroubled meritocracy has never existed, sociologists check out traces the meritocracy throughout modern societies as soon as they research the duty of academic and project performance rating, as well as the systems used for assessing and financially rewarding achievement in these areas.

Watch It

One good way to examine stratification in the United states is to failure the population in quintiles, or 5 groups every representing 20% of the population. This CrashCourse video explains basic information regarded each quintile, then examines ways that class, status, and also power every play into stratification in the U.S.

See more: What To Wear On Palm Sunday Dresses, Liturgical Colours

In what ways does the course system assistance the legend of a pure meritocracy? who is helped and who is ache by this ideology? Using your sociological imagination, take into consideration how a background of manifest destiny and/or imperialism and/or slavery residually influence a country’s device of stratification. Please consider the unified States and also at the very least one various other country.