Sunday, 30 December 2012

Social Stratification and Education

What is Social Stratification?
In sociologysocial stratification is a concept involving the "classification of people into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions." When differences lead to greater status, power or privilege for some groups over the other it is called Social Stratification.

It is a system by which society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. Social stratification is based on four basic principles: 
(1) Social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences; 
(2) Social stratification carries over from generation to generation;
(3) Social stratification is universal but variable; 
(4) Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs as well.

In modern Western societies, stratification is broadly organized into three main layers: upper classmiddle class, and lower class. Each of these classes can be further subdivided into smaller classes (e.g. occupational).


Education and Social Stratification

  •              Meaning of Social Stratification
  •              Features
  •              The categories of Social Stratification
  •              The effects of stratification on the lives of individuals and  groups
  •              Causes of Social Stratification
  •              The process of Stratification
  •              Types of Social Stratification


In Sociology and Anthropology, social stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of individuals into social classes, castes and divisions within a society. These hierarchies, which may be overtly or covertly preset, or not present at all in some societies, are quite common in state-level societies. 

In our society we rank people according to the scarce resources they control. Money and property are scarce resources in our society and those who own a great deal of money and property, wealthy people, can use this resource to gain power. It has been said that very respected people also control another scarce resource – public respect and that they can use this resource to gain power. 

Political leaders are likewise powerful because they are in a position to control the members of a political party. This ranking of people according to their wealth, prestige or party position is known as Social Stratification. Stratification separates the rich from the poor, the powerful from the powerless. Those who possess scarce resources have a high rank and those who do not possess them have a low rank. 

Our place in the stratification system influences every part of our lives; where we live, go to school and work; what we eat how we vote and whom we marry. Our sexual behavior, sports, hobbies and health are all affected by the rank society gives us. Therefore social stratification is an area of great interest to sociologists.
The term stratification is derived from the geological concept of   ‘Strata’ which means rock layers created by natural processes. Stratification is a hierarchy of positions with regard to economic production which influences the social rewards to those in the positions.
According Raymond W. Murray; “Social Stratification is horizontal division of society into ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ social units.” Every society is divided into more or less distinct groups. Even the most primitive societies had some form of social stratification.


The main features of social stratification are;

1. It is a social and economic categorization of individuals within a societal framework.

2. It is based on Caste, Class, and Status & Power of a Community or Section of People within the framework of a society.

3. Social Stratification exists because of natural differences in peoples abilities.

4. Due to Social Stratification societies tend to be stable and are held together through consensus.

5. It lessens conflicts & provides structure.

6. Social Stratification is a natural & voluntary separation according to race, social & economic status.


The categories of social stratification are; social class, gender, race and ethnicity and age and disability.
Some indicative features of these categories are as follows:

a) Social Class
• Distinction between wealth and income and their distribution in society.
• Social mobility and the link between class and life chances.
• Changing nature of class and its relationship to the economy and occupational structure.

b) Gender
• Difference between biological notion of sex and the socially constructed notion of gender.
• Nature and consequences of gender-role socialisation.
• Gender inequalities in terms of occupation, family and social roles and expectations.

c) Race and Ethnicity
• Nature, size and distribution of different racial and ethnic groups in modern society.
• Inequality relating to race and ethnicity; in particular, discrimination in education, employment and on life chances.
• Role of the mass media in the formation of stereotypes and the consequences for ethnic groups.

d) Age
• Social construction of the concept of age, including awareness of different notions of childhood, adolescence and old age in different societies.
• Inequalities as a result of age, such as employment, unemployment, low pay, access to benefits and restrictions on social behaviour.
• Implications of changes in the age structure of modern society.

e) Disability
• Social construction of disability.
• Inequality relating to disability; in particular, discrimination in education, employment and on life chances.
• Role of the mass media in the formation of negative stereotypes and the consequences for disabled individuals and groups.

  •  The effects of stratification on the lives of individuals groups :

The above aspects of social stratification should be studies in order to explore the nature of social relationships, processes, structures and issues. Sub-cultural, cross-cultural, historical, contemporary or anthropological examples should be used wherever possible and candidates should be encouraged to apply insights to current social issues or their own life experiences. Cross-cultural and/or anthropological examples may be drawn from the Socialization.

  • Causes of Social Stratification:

There are five basic points which gives clear idea about the causes of social stratification;

Inequality – Inequality exists because of natural differences in people’s abilities.

Conflict – Stratification occurs due to conflict between different classes, with the upper classes using superior power to take a larger share of the social resources.

Power – Power influences one’s definition of self and the importance of ideas in defining social situations.

Wealth – Difference in the wealth is also one of the causes of social stratification.

Instability – Instability in the society being the cause of social stratification enhances stability and induces members of the society to work hard. 


Social stratification refers to differential access to resources, power, autonomy, and status across social groups. Social stratification implies social inequality; if some groups have access to more resources than others, the distribution of those resources is inherently unequal.

Societies can be stratified on any number of dimensions. In the United States, the most widely recognized stratification systems are based on race, social class, and gender. The challenge for those of us interested in understanding the implications of social stratification and social inequality for mental health is to trace the processes through which macrostructures of social stratification become manifest in the micro conditions of individual lives.
Those micro conditions can be objective or subjective, and the effects of objective conditions often depend on how those conditions are subjectively perceived. Thus, the study of social stratification and mental health requires that we think at multiple levels of analysis and about the connections between objective and subjective experiences.

Given renewed interest in macro-micro links among sociologists (e.g., Huber, 1990) and the centrality of subjective perceptions in social-psychological theory, the study of social stratification and mental health is a quintessentially sociological project.

"Even though social stratification is a multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional field of study, there is a tendency to understand it mainly from the perspective of sociology. Further, most analysts perceive Indian society as a series of antinomies such as caste/class, caste/power, structure/culture and structure/process. Departing significantly from both these viewpoints, this book provides a comprehensive understanding of social stratification and mobility in
India drawing essential inputs from major debates and dialogues in various branches of the social sciences.

"Focusing on different segments of society--such as rural- agrarian and urban-industrial--K.L. Sharma covers a wide gamut of theoretical and methodological issues. He emphasizes the need to study the ideology, structure and process of social inequality both temporally
and contextually. The inclusion of discussions on social stratification particularly enriches the comparative perspective of the study. The role of the state and its policies in the structuring of social stratification is also explored.

"The author maintains that while the cult urological explanation of social mobility suffers from serious inadequacies, the structural perspective alone is unable to explain the entire range of structure and change in the context of social inequality. He suggests that the caste-
class-power nexus approach is not only more relevant for analyzing social stratification and mobility, but does away with antinomies as well.

"On the whole, this chapter provides a holistic understanding of the complexities of Indian society by analyzing the historical, cultural and political bases of social stratification. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of sociology, social anthropology, and political
sociology, as also to concerned intellectuals and planners."

  •  Equality of Educational Opportunity
Equality is said to exist only when inequality has been removed. But in reality inequality is not totally eliminated. Whatever measures may be taken to ensure equality, inequality will exist to some degree. Thus what the programmes of equality do or can do is to narrow down the inequalities. It means “elimination of that level or type of Inequality which is considered undesirable or unacceptable within the society.” So the purist of equality aims not at total equality in the philosophical sense, but at an equitable distribution of societal resources.

Modern society views education as an important societal resource and a means of achieving the goal of egalitarianism. Education is looked upon as a means of raising the social status of an individual in various ways. It is accepted as a basic human need to have a desirable quality of life. Given equal opportunity for general, vocational, technical and professional education most citizens have equal status in the society.
Education is often considered as an equalizer.

Equality of educational opportunities means that an individual has equal access to education. Equality of educational opportunities is one of the goals of the ideology of Egalitarianism. However, inequality of educational opportunities exists throughout the world and more so in

The Education Commission (1964-1966) has observed: “The main social objectives of education is to equalize opportunity, enabling the backward or underprivileged classes and individuals to use education as a lever for the improvement of their condition. Every society that values social justice and is anxious to improve a lot of the common man and cultivate all available talent must ensure progressive equality of opportunity to all sections of the population.

  • Differential standard of Educational Institutions:

Children from poor families receive education in substandard institutions which are not properly equipped with teachers, teaching aids and apparatus. Usually urban schools and colleges are of better standard than rural schools and colleges. Differences in the standard of educational institutions ultimately cause inequality in the standard of students.

  •  Positive Discrimination in the Indian context:

In order to ensure equalization of educational opportunities certain measures to be taken with immediate effect. These measures may be based on the needs and status of disadvantaged groups, disabled children, and girls.

1. Primary Education: Primary education should seek to satisfy the basic needs of all
people. There should not be any differentiation of curricula at this stage.
Equality of educational opportunities at the primary stage requires
provision of free and compulsory education for all children without any

2. Secondary Education: Individual differences among boys and girls are more prominent at
the secondary stage diversified curricula should be introduced to cater to
the needs, interests and capabilities of students.

3. Higher Professional Education: At the stage of higher education and professional education
emphasis should be placed on individual capacity or merit and
maintenance of quality and standard.

4. Compensatory Education: Disadvantaged children have an unstimulating environment. They
attend primary schools without prerequisite learning which are necessary
for successful completion of primary education.

Common School System:
Equalization of educational opportunity necessitates adoption of a
common school system-both at the primary and secondary stages. It will
be a system-

1. Which will be open to all children without any discrimination?

2. Where admission will be based on talent.

3. Which will maintain adequate facilities and reasonably good

4. Where no tuition fee will be charged.

5. Which will meet the needs and aspirations of the middle and lower

Nationalization of education system is an important step to
equalize educational opportunities. There should be only one agency in the
country to spread and control education. No private agency should be
allowed to function in the field of education. Uniform educational
facilities can only be provided in a national system of education.

  •  Free Education and Scholarships
To provide free and universal primary education for the age group 6-14 is a constitutional obligation. All Education should be tuition free. Free textbooks and writing materials should be made available to poor and meritorious students to ensure equality no limited for introducing large number of loan-scholarships, improving the method of selection.

  • Equalization of Educational opportunity

The equalization of educational opportunities is essentially linked with the equality notions in the social system. The social system which intends to provide equal opportunities for the advancement of all has to make provisions for equal educational opportunities also. In modern industrial society education has become the main agency for socializing new born into law abiding citizens and productive members of the society.
Formal education has become almost indispensable because to participate in economic production one needs to learn specialized skills which cannot be acquired through family or any other agency. Due to the indispensability of formal education in advanced industrial societies education is provided by the state as a matter of right for all its citizens.

Formal institutions – schools, colleges and universities are organized for this purpose.

In most societies today legislations exist guaranteeing equality of  the right of education. In fact to realize this ideal of equality of educational opportunities special efforts are made by the welfare states in industrial societies to provide compulsory education to the socially deprived. In developing countries like India state has assumed the responsibility to
provide universal free education at the school level. Special policy measures have been developed to spread modern scientific secular education to rural areas and policy of protective discriminating has been adopted to encourage the traditionally deprived section like SC and ST to take to modern education. However in spite of the creation of a legal
framework in most societies to ensure quality of educational opportunity such an ideal continues to be elusive in reality even in the industrially advanced societies.

Bourdon relates the costs and benefits of course selection to family and peer group solidarity. His work has important implications for practical solutions to the problem of inequality of education opportunity.  Even if positive discrimination worked and schools were able to
compensate for the primary effects of stratification considerable inequality of educational opportunity would remain.

Bourdon argues that there are two ways of removing the secondary effects of stratification. The first involves the educational system. If it provides a single compulsory curriculum for all students the element of choice in the selection of course and duration of stay in the system would be removed. The individual would no longer be influenced by his courses and remain in full time education for the same period of time. He said that more the branching points there are in the educational system point at which the student can leave or choose between alternative courses the more likely working class students are to leave or choose lower level

The gradual raising of the school leaving age in all advanced industrial societies has reduced inequality of educational opportunity but the present trend indicates that this reduction will at best proceed at a  much slower rate. Bourdon’s second solution to the problem of inequality of educational opportunity is the abolition of social stratification. He feels that this is the direction of economic equality as the most effective way of reducing inequality or educational opportunity. 

As a result he argues that the key to equality of opportunity lies outside rather than inside the schools. Bourdon concludes: for inequality or educational opportunity to be eliminated, either a society must be unstratified or its school system must be completely undifferentiated.

  •  Problems concerning equality of opportunities in education

Education helps in establishing equality and ensuring social justice
but the system of education itself can add to the existing inequalities or at
least perpetuate the same. Inequalities of educational opportunities arise
due to Poverty as the poor cannot afford to meet the expenses of education.

Children studying in the rural schools have to compete with the
children in urban areas where there are well-equipped schools.

In the places where no primary, secondary or collegiate educational
institutions exist children do not get the same opportunity as those who
have all these in their neighborhood.

Wide inequalities also arise from differences in home environments. A
child from a rural household or slum does not have the same
opportunity as a child from an upper class home with educated parents.

There is wide sex disparity in India. Here girl’s education is not given
the same encouragement as boys.

Education of backward classes including SC and ST and economically
backward sections is not at par with that of other communities or

  •  Compensatory Education Programmes


COMPENSATORY EDUCATION is a program of supplementary
instruction designed to meet the individual needs of students performing
significantly below expected achievement levels in language arts, maths,
and/or reading.


Compensatory education, in the form of supplementary instruction,
will be provided to selected students who are performing
significantly below expected achievement levels in language arts,
mathematics, and/or reading. The CEP is intended to be primarily for
students who do not require special education services. However,
special education students who meet the CEP entrance requirements
would be eligible to be considered for the CEP.

The CEP is designed to be a program of Supplementary instruction
and as such will not be used to provide the primary instruction for
regular or special Education students.

An ongoing assessment program, which may include criterion
referenced tests, will be conducted to identify students eligible for
compensatory education supplementary instruction and to determine
student progress and program effectiveness.

Testing procedures used for placements and progress evaluation of
students will be valid and fair.

For staffing, budget, and overall program planning, the number of
students performing at or below the 40th percentile on norm-
referenced standardized tests in language arts, maths, and reading
will be used.

Compensatory education programs will include a parent involvement

Instructional priority will be given to students in grades one through
four. Preventative measures at these grade levels are proven to be the
most reliable.

Systematic procedures for annual program evaluation, to include
recordkeeping, will be used to ensure maintenance and improvement
of compensatory education services.

  •  Responsibilities
The Director is responsible for: a. Ensuring the development, implementation, program –evaluation.
b. Coordinating with the chiefs of the Education, Fiscal, Logistics,

The regional director is responsible for:
a. Ensuring the development, implementation, program evaluation,
and improvement of a regional CEP consistent-with concepts
b. Providing enrollment figures, test data, and other pertinent
information, as required, to support staffing and resource

The district superintendent is responsible for:
a.Coordinating with regional office staff regarding the CEP’s.
b. Ensuring implementation and evaluation of school level CEP's

The school principal, where staff is assigned, is responsible for:
a. Ensuring the development, implementation, an annual
evaluation, and improvement of a school CEP consistent with the
concepts and processes identified.
b. Making recommendations to the district superintendent and/or
regional director identifying the school’s specific needs in
compensatory education.
c. Utilizing a committee to develop a plan for a school CEP.
d. Implementing the plan for compensatory education services.
e. Providing the regional director and/or district superintendent
with enrollment figures, test data, annual evaluation report, and
other pertinent information, as required, to support staffing and
resource allocations.

  •  Enriching the Compensatory Education Programme

The development of compensatory education programs has
traditionally been informed by the belief that disadvantaged students can
benefit most from a less challenging curriculum and limited achievement
goals. Evaluations “effectiveness" reinforce the curriculum deficiency by
measuring only the improvement in scores on reading and arithmetic tests,
and by failing to deal with the overall achievement of students.

  • Coordination of Regular and Compensatory Education Classes

Often there is a lack of clarity about the purpose of compensatory
education services, with divergent perceptions found among the support
staff, the core classroom teachers, and administrators. Most studies
indicate that there are few efforts to coordinate various special or
supplementary programs with core or regular programs, few procedures
for cooperative/joint planning among the various program teachers at the
school, and even fewer district- or building-level policies to foster
cooperative planning among the various suppliers of programs or services.
Thus, students often end up with less instructional time than other

For instance, regular classroom teachers often report that the
reading resource teachers rarely offer instructional information,
suggestions, or materials. Support program teachers are often unable to
identify the reading instruction material their remedial students use in the
regular classroom. Regular classroom and reading resource teachers are
often confused about who is responsible for which aspects of instructional
planning and delivery. Reading is often taught as an "unrelated skill"--i.e.,
reading of reading texts--not as a skill needed for other learning and study
areas. What is needed is congruence between curricula what is to be
taught, in what order, and using which materials, and between the methods
of instruction (Ellington & Johnson, 1986). Conflicts arise when the

reading strategies taught and learned in one setting are radically different
from those in the second setting, such as emphasis on decoding versus a
focus on comprehension.


  1. Nice information posted. One can also get the details of online coaching classes for gate only at Online ICE GATE Institute.

  2. Hi guys,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
    If someone want to know more about supplementary education I think this is the right place for you!

  3. The article is truly great, without exaggeration! I just wanted to welcome you at It has been used by researchers!

  4. nice article thank yu so much

  5. ho serious, thank you very much


  6. Thank you for sharing such great information. can you help me in finding out more detail on  schools near sector 57

  7. Thank you for sharing such great information. It has help me in finding out more detail about Education Loan

  8. I know of a dear friend who accidentally put a students name on his blog and was grounded. But I am sure Michael will be able to look in the mirror if God forbid something should happen to one of this students. 6 Pillars Of Character Development In Orange County Youth