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BSOE-148: Social Stratification

BSOE-148: Social Stratification

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023

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Assignment Code: BSOE-148/ASST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BSOE-148

Assignment Name: Social Stratification

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1) Discuss the functionalist approach of social stratification. [20]

Ans) The functionalists accept the fact that all societies are stratified. The functionalist approach to social stratification is a theoretical perspective that views inequality as a necessary and beneficial aspect of society. According to functionalists, social stratification serves important functions for society and contributes to social stability and order. Functionalists argue that social stratification is based on merit and is necessary for the efficient functioning of society. They believe that social stratification motivates individuals to work harder and to strive for success, which in turn drives economic growth and development. They also argue that social stratification provides a clear hierarchy of roles and responsibilities, which helps to ensure that tasks are performed effectively and efficiently.


Functionalists view social inequality as a product of social differentiation, which is the process by which individuals and groups are assigned different roles and responsibilities based on their abilities and qualifications. They argue that social differentiation is necessary for the efficient functioning of society, as it allows individuals to specialize in different tasks and to contribute to the overall well-being of the community.


For example, workers and managers are needed to run a factory. No factory can exist with only workers and no managers or only managers and no workers. Hence managers and workers are integral for running a factory. At the same time, it will be wrong to assume that because both groups are necessary, both have equal status. This is not so. The managers enjoy higher status than the workers do. Hence integration does not mean equality. It means that all the separate groups together contribute towards stability and order, and the existence of a clear hierarchy of roles and responsibilities reduces social conflict and ensures that tasks are performed effectively and efficiently. In this sense, social stratification is seen as a means of promoting social order and stability, rather than as a source of conflict and division.


Society needs workers, industrialists, managers, policemen, teachers, students, artisans and so on. Different individuals who have specialised skills do these different types of work. Therefore, the functional prerequisite of any society is of allocating these different roles effectively ensuring that the right people are placed in proper positions. Also, a system of unequal rewards generates motivation to put in greater efforts to qualify for higher positions.


However, there are several criticisms of the functionalist approach to social stratification. Critics argue that social stratification is not necessarily based on merit, but is often influenced by factors such as race, gender, and wealth, which are not related to merit. They argue that social stratification can lead to social inequality and exclusion and can perpetuate patterns of domination and oppression. Critics also argue that the functionalist approach tends to overlook the negative consequences of social stratification, including poverty, unemployment, and social exclusion. They argue that social inequality can create social and economic problems, such as poverty and unemployment, which can undermine social stability and order.


In conclusion, the functionalist approach to social stratification views inequality as a necessary and beneficial aspect of society. However, this approach has been criticized for its tendency to overlook the negative consequences of social stratification and for its assumption that social inequality is based on merit.


Q2) Briefly outline the bases of social stratification. [20]

Ans) Social stratification refers to the unequal distribution of resources, power, and prestige within a society. It refers to the way in which individuals and groups are ranked in a hierarchical order and how this ranking affects access to resources, opportunities, and social mobility. Social stratification is a fundamental aspect of all societies, and its bases can vary depending on the historical and cultural context.


Class: Class is based on the distribution of economic resources, including wealth, income, and property. In capitalist societies, the ownership of capital is the primary basis of social stratification, and individuals are ranked according to their level of wealth, income, and economic status. This can affect access to education, health care, and employment opportunities.


Power: It refers to differential access to power in society including political, social and other types of power. It is always possible that a group with higher status in society or that which enjoys greater wealth, also exercises more power in society. Power as a principle also enters into the notion of social stratification when its functions or its social ramifications begin to be influenced by the political processes in society.


Status: It refers to distribution of prestige or social honour. Status in the language of social stratification means ranking of groups in a society on the basis of their relative position in terms of honour or respect. Caste is a very appropriate example of status groups.


Caste: Caste systems are based on the caste-ascribed status, which is a system of social stratification that is determined by birth and is often associated with Hindu societies. Castes are often ranked in a hierarchical order, with higher castes enjoying more privileges and access to resources, while lower castes are marginalized and excluded.

Race and Ethnicity: Race and ethnicity are based on physical characteristics, including skin color, hair type, and facial features, and cultural practices, including language, religion, and customs. In many societies, these characteristics are used to discriminate against certain groups and to assign social status based on perceived differences.


Gender: Gender is based on the socially constructed differences between men and women and is used to allocate resources, opportunities, and power. In many societies, men have more power, status, and access to resources, while women are marginalized and excluded.


Age: Age is another important basis of social stratification, with older individuals often enjoying more prestige and resources, while younger individuals are marginalized and excluded. This is often seen in the allocation of educational and employment opportunities, as well as in the distribution of power and resources within families and communities.


Education: Education is a key basis of social stratification, as it affects access to employment opportunities, income, and prestige. In many societies, individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to have better job prospects, higher salaries, and more social prestige, while those with lower levels of education are more likely to be marginalized and excluded.


Social stratification is a dynamic and ongoing process that is shaped by a range of historical, cultural, economic, and political factors. Understanding the bases of social stratification is essential for addressing issues of inequality, discrimination, and social justice, as well as for creating more equitable and just societies. By examining the ways in which social stratification is constructed and maintained, it is possible to identify and challenge the systemic forces that perpetuate inequality and to work towards creating a more equal and just world.


Assignment – II


Answer the following in about 250 words each.


Q3) Give the definition of ethnicity. [10]

Ans) Ethnicity refers to a shared cultural heritage and identity, often based on shared ancestry, language, religion, customs, and traditions. Ethnic identity is a social construct that provides individuals with a sense of belonging to a particular group and is used to categorize and differentiate people based on common characteristics and cultural traits. Ethnicity is a complex concept that encompasses a range of factors, including cultural practices, beliefs, and values, as well as historical experiences and social and political contexts. Ethnic identity can be based on a shared history, religion, language, or geographic location, and is often linked to shared experiences of discrimination, marginalization, or oppression.


One of the key features of ethnicity is that it is not an innate or fixed characteristic, but is shaped and constructed through social, cultural, and political processes. Ethnicity can change and evolve over time as individuals and communities encounter new experiences and encounter different cultural traditions and practices. It is important to note that ethnicity is often used in conjunction with race, although the two terms are not synonymous. Race is typically understood as a biological or physical characteristic, while ethnicity is more closely tied to cultural and social factors.


In conclusion, ethnicity is a complex and multifaceted concept that is used to categorize and understand the cultural identities of individuals and groups. It encompasses a range of cultural, historical, and social factors, and is shaped by ongoing social, cultural, and political processes. Understanding ethnicity and its role in shaping individual and collective identities is essential for addressing issues of discrimination, inequality, and social justice.


Q4) Write down Marx’s ideas on the mode of production. [10]

Ans) Karl Marx's ideas on the mode of production are central to his theory of historical materialism and his critique of capitalism. According to Marx, the mode of production refers to the way in which society produces and reproduces the means of subsistence, including both material goods and the labour power needed to produce them. Marx argues that the mode of production is the primary determinant of a society's social, political, and economic structure. He claims that changes in the mode of production drive historical change and shape the development of societies over time. For Marx, the mode of production is not simply a technical or economic aspect of society, but is deeply interconnected with social relations, ideology, and politics.


Marx argues that the most fundamental form of the mode of production is the relationship between the owners of the means of production (for example land, factories, etc.) and the workers who use these means to produce goods. In a capitalist society, this relationship is characterized by the exploitation of workers, as the capitalists appropriate the surplus value created by workers and accumulate wealth and power. According to Marx, the capitalist mode of production is driven by the pursuit of profit and the expansion of markets, leading to the constant pursuit of technological innovation and the concentration of capital in the hands of a few large corporations. Marx argues that this process results in a growing polarization of society between the wealthy capitalists and the exploited workers, and leads to a series of social, political, and economic crises.


In conclusion, Marx's ideas on the mode of production provide a critical perspective on the workings of capitalism and the relationship between the economy and society.


Q5) Differentiate between the Weberian approach and Marxian approaches of social stratification. [10]

Ans) Although there are some similarities between the two thinkers on stratification their views were not really similar. For Marx, the basis of stratification was class and class consciousness. The formation of class was objective in the sense that a class was not made because a group of people got together and decided that will they form a class It came into being because of the production relations that existed in a society. Therefore, a person's position in the class structure was determined by his position in the production relations. If one owns or controls capital and he employed others, he is a capitalist. Those who did not own belonged to the opposing class of worker.


Opposition of classes was an important aspect of Marx's analysis. It was through this opposition that socio-economic change took place. The capitalists invent new ways to counteract workers. This could be because of new technology that makes production better or because of new laws that stop workers from getting stronger. The workers too became more united in their struggle. They tend to drop their internal differences when they realise that another class is their main opponent. This leads to greater unity among them. Thus, for Marx, class and class-consciousness do not mean mere categories in society. They are fundamental for social development.


At one level, Weber accepts Marx's view on class. This was not to support Marx but to show how his analysis has weaknesses. He stresses that there are more than just two main classes in society that emerge due to the market situation and the type of work done. So, he comes to conclusion that there are four main classes in society. This in effect confuses the class relations. Thus, Weber feels that neither class nor class consciousness can explain stratification completely. He thus lays greater stress on status. Weber tries to show that class-consciousness in not an important aspect of social stratification. For him status groups are the basis. He finds that classes are static whereas status stretches across classes. While comparing the two we must remember that Weber was an opponent and contradicts Marx's views.


Assignment – III


Write a following in about 100 words each.


Q6) Power [6]

Ans) Power is the ability to control people, resources, and events. There is always a potential that a group with more money or social position will have more power in society. Power, as defined by Max Weber in his work on social stratification, allows people or groups to legally impose their will on others. The state exemplifies such authority. Power as a principle enters social stratification when political processes influence its functions or social effects. "Positive discrimination" occurs when our government grants jobs, political positions, and admission to specific castes and tribes. Corruption, injustice, and war can result from authority abuse.


Q7) Social mobility [6]

Ans) Social mobility refers to any transition from one social position to another. Change in social position involves significant change in life chances and way of living. Pitirim A. Sorokin classically define the concept of social mobility. Any change of position in society experienced by an individual or a group not only affects the individual or the group, but also on the society as a whole. Social mobility can be of two types: Horizontal social mobility which means the transition of an individual or social object from one social group to another situated on the same level and vertical mobility that is upward or downward change in the rank of an individual or group which involves promotion or demotion, change in income, social status etc. Social mobility can be influenced by several factors such as education, economic conditions, or systemic inequalities.


Q8) Features of caste [6]

Ans) Caste refers to a system of social stratification based on birth, which is prevalent in India. The caste system has several features that define its functioning:

  1. Segmental Division of Society: The society is divided into various small social groups called castes. Each of these castes is a well-developed social group determined by birth.

  2. Hierarchy:  Castes are ranked according to a hierarchy, with Brahmins at the top and Dalits at the bottom.

  3. Endogamy: People of the same caste tend to marry within their own caste.

  4. Hereditary Occupation: Castes often have a traditional association with a specific occupation, such as farming or weaving.

  5. Restrictions: The caste system prohibits intercaste marriage and eating.

  6. Discrimination: Despite being illegal, caste-based violence and marginalisation persist in many places of India.

  7. Legacy: The caste system still affects Indian politics, economics, and society.


Q9) Race [6]

Ans) Race is defined as “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits.” Race is a social construct used to group people. It was made as a hierarchical system for grouping people, with racial classifications used to identify, separate, and put some groups in the background across nations, regions, and the world. Race often divides people into groups based on how they look, how they act, and what their cultural backgrounds are. The term race thus refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, for instance differences and similarities in skin colour, hair type or even facial features. Depending upon these differences people are clubbed in various groups popularly known as race, such as, Caucasian, Mongoloid, Negroid, etc.


Q10) Slavery system. [6]

Ans) One person owns another like property and uses their labour for profit in slavery or forced labour. Slaves are at the bottom of any stratification structure since they have no power or riches. They were sold like goods and had no rights. Slavery has a long and varied history, but the transatlantic slave trade of the 16th to 19th centuries is most famous. Debt, crime, conflict, and pride cause slavery. Slavery was abolished in most nations in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but its legacy still affects descendants and their cultures. Human trafficking, while is prohibited, is nonetheless practised in some parts of the world.

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