Stratification involves grouping people according to their social economic status in the society and highlighting their inequalities. As a result, some groups enjoy more power, status, and privilege than others.
Social stratification can be defined as the method used by the society to rank people according to the hierarchy. Mainly, it is based on four principles, which are: I.) It is a trait held by society and not simply a reflection of differences in people. II.) It is passed from generation to generation. III.) It is universal, but it varies with geographical locations IV.) It not only highlights inequalities, but beliefs too. Social stratification can be divided into three main layers being lower class, middle class, and upper class. However, each of these classes can be further subdivided into smaller divisions. The interconnection of the social stratification causes a balance in the society as each class depends on the other for survival. They have to work together accordingly for the dependency to be two way, with no division taking advantage of the other (Lambert 32).
The lower class division is generally neglected, but it has a significant effect on the other social classes and society at large. For example, the middle and upper class people need someone to run their errands, and do some manual jobs. Without the lower class stratification, there would be a deficiency in labor, especially manual labor. The lower class division in return benefit from the other classes through salaries and wages, which help improve their living standards. People in the lower class stratification not only have an effect on the other classes, but also on the society at large too. They not only work for people of higher social status, but also earn the government revenue, which in return is used to develop the society. If we do not have them, that means lesser government and hence less community development. For example, a man in the lower class stratification works as a messenger for an international firm. In his salary, a certain portion of his income is taxed by the government and used for community development. In case one of the social classes does not play the required role; the effect is felt by the whole society (Finsterbusch 13).
History has had a role to play in the interaction of the social classes. Initially, the wealthy people used to buy slaves from lower social classes to work for them, unlike now, which is illegal. According to the constitution, every employee has the right to a desirable salary, and unlike in historical times, they have better working terms. However, inequality still exists in the society, but on a lower level than before. This is because of the increased diplomacy in the world and also emergence of groups that advocate for human rights and equality. Individuals from the upper class stratification still get privileges as compared to the other members of the society. For example in a court case, a wealthy man is likely to win over a less privileged man because the latter will not have much finance to cater for a reputable lawyer and advisor. This results in many court cases between people in different social stratifications being one way, with the lower class being disadvantaged (Grusky 15).
Different theories by scholars can be used to try and explain social stratification. The functionalist theory states that for a society to function as desired, each individual has to play his/her own particular role. The theory argues that inequality has its advantages in the society, and different positions have to be filled by people from different social classes. Functionalists argue that, in the society, there are jobs that are more valuable than others and the rewards have to vary to motivate people to work harder to obtain higher positions. This theory allows the multifaceted nature of social stratification as people in different social classes play their roles in the society (Tischler 40). They work together though on different levels to ensure interdependence is balanced. However, social stratification can become less interrelated especially in societies where people are almost on the same social class. Most people in the upper class stratification are likely to do much on their own as compared to their lower class counterparts. But yet again, they will still need people for their manual labor that they will have to turn elsewhere if it is not readily available. Social stratification hence can become less interrelated but not entirely independent (Labov 16).
Social stratification in the society is viewed differently using different theories of sociology. However, social stratification is mainly established in developed societies, and hierarchy consists to create a suitable social structure. Social stratification is crucial in the society as long as the privileges of every social class are used against each other. It ensures that every individual has his/her place in the society, and together they work towards financial and development excellence.