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NIOS Class 12 Sociology Chapter 16 Social Stratification
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MODULE 2: SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION
INTEXT QUESTIONS 16.1
Answer the following questions in one sentence only:
(a) Define social inequality.
Ans. Some have more privileges and resources than others, as a result of which people and group are ranked which creates inequality.
(b) What is stratification?
Ans. Division of society into strata or layers.
(c) Describe the notion of ‘primitive communism’.
Ans. Simple societies having a state of complete equality.
(d) Give the definition of the term prestige.
Ans. Prestige is associated with an individual who excels in some field, carries more respect and may be richer than others.
INTEXT QUESTIONS 16.2
Find out which the following statements is True or False. Write ‘T’ after the statement that is true, and ‘F’ after the statement that is false:
(a) According to Marx, there are two main classes in society.
(b) For Marx, classes are defined in terms of the mental abilities of persons.
(c) The means of production include technology, capital and resources.
(d) According to Marx, ownership of the means of production leads to control over political power.
(e) Classes existed in human society right from the beginning of humankind.
INTEXT QUESTIONS 16.3
Fill in the blanks with appropriate word given in brackets:
(a) Status is defined as ‘social ……………… . (position, action, behaviour)
(b) Role refers to ……………….. . (behaviour, situations, individual)
(c) Statuses acquired by birth are called ………………. . ascribed, higher, different)
(d) Achieved statuses are found more in ……………. Societies. (complex, simple, joint)
(e) The status of son is an example of ……………. status. (achieved, ascribed, both)
INTEXT QUESTIONS 16.4
Find out which of the following statements is True and which one is False. Write T after the statement that you think is true, and ‘F’ after the statement that is false.
(a) Caste is an example of a status group.
(b) Caste is basically an example of achieved. status.
(c) Castes are found in all parts of the world.
(d) Castes and classes refer to the same social category.
(e) Untouchability has been abolished in India.
(f) Sanskritization is a process of upward mobility in caste system.
(g) Castes are also found in many non-Hindu communities.
(h) Kshatriyas are also known as the members of the ‘merchant caste’.
(i) At the bottom of caste hierarchy are placed the members of the caste called Sudra.
(j) Caste is an open system of social stratification.
Q.1. Is social stratification universal? Discuss. (M. Imp.)
Ans. Universality of social Stratification:
1. Is social stratification universal? Sociologists point out that simple societies of hunters and food gatherers usually do not have groups, which are ranked one above the other. Difference of power, wealth and prestige do not exist at the level of groups. All clans are equally placed. No ranking exists between them. All members of these communities have equal access to resources. As a result, there are no rich or poor people among them. Whatever inequality exists between them is at the level of sex and age.
2. Women (or men) may have more or less prestige in different societies. Elders may be respected. The solutions they offer in matters of conflict may not be binding on the individuals involved, yet they are respected and followed. From this we may conclude that although social inequality may be found in all societies, social stratification may not be universal.
3. That why, sociologists today no more support the idea of ‘primitive communism’, where is was believed there were simple societies marked by a state of complete equality between the individual members. On closer observation, it was found that while these societies lacked stratification, they still had inequality on the lines of gender and age. They also had the concepts of ‘best hunters’, ‘best craftsmen’, ‘best magicians’, who commanded more respect than the others.
4. All adult men knew the techniques of hunting, but some excelled over others. Thus, they were the ones who enjoyed more prestige than the others. The point to be kept in mind is that even in simple societies, an individual may carry more respect or may be richer than others.
Example: For instance, the chief may be the richest man because he receives gifts from the subjects. But prestige or wealth is not necessarily associated with a group. It may be associated with an individual. From this, we may repeat our conclusion that stratification is not universally found to the same extent and in the same sense. What is found, however, is some form of social inequality.
Q.2. Describe in your own words what do you mean by ascribed and achieved statues, with example?
Ans. Meaning of ascribed and achieved statues:
1. Sociologists speak of two types of statuses, respectively called and achieved. Ascribed statuses are given to the individual because of the facts related to his/her birth. It is a matter of accident that because of my birth in a Brahmin family. I happen to be Brahmin. I did not choose the social position of a Brahmin. In the same way, because of my birth as a female, I happen to occupy the position of a daughter, niece, granddaughter, and later in life, of a wife, mother, aunt and grandmother, etc. The position I occupy by being born in a family, a particular social category, or a particular sex category, are ascribed statuses. They cannot be changed. Once an individual occupies a particular social position because of birth, the other social positions that he would occupy over time, can be easily predicted. If an individual is born a male, we may easily predict that he would be a son, father, uncle, grandfather, and so on.
2. The other social position is called ‘achieved status’. In each society, certain positions are left open to be filled in by competition. Individuals compete for certain social positions, and these position for which there is competition are known as achieved statuses. If a person gets through the Civil Services Examination and becomes a civil servant, then we would say that he has achieved the status. In a simple society, social positions are predominantly ascribed, but there are certain positions that are filled by competition. For instance, the positions of the ‘best hunter’, the ‘best craftsman’, the ‘best gardner’, are the examples of achieved statuses. By comparison, in a complex society, social positions are largely achieved, but it does not imply that ascribed positions disappear. Rather, they continue to be important in many situations. Moreover, ascribed positions often influence the achievement of a status. Being a male in many societies also brings several privileges. A man may be more easily permitted to go for higher education than a woman. Thus there are more chance of males achieving certain statuses than of females.
Q.3. What are the salient characteristics of caste?
Ans. The salient characteristics of caste: Some of the salient characteristics of caste may be noted below. All these characteristics of caste are inter-related:
1. Caste system is based on the ideas of purity and pollution.
2. Besides occupation, each caste has its own style of living.
3. In a village, a person’s caste may be identified by looking at his dress and jewellery house types, food habits and the manner of speaking.
4. It has been found that each caste has its own dialect, which may be distinguished from the others.
5. Each caste follows the rules of endogamy, that is, its members marry within their own caste, but they marry outside their village. Village exogamy, i.e. marrying out accompanies caste endogamy.
6. Each caste has its own council, locally called caste panchayat, which takes up disputes and other matters pertaining to the caste.
7. Each caste has its own complex of gods and goddesses, ritual-complex and folklore.
Q.4. How caste is different from class? Explain. (V. Imp.)
Ans. Differences between caste and class:
1. Caste is different from class. A class is defined in economic terms, whereas a caste is understood as a hereditary unit, defined as a way of life. An individual is born in a class but he always has a chance to improve upon it. By comparison, in theoretical terms, the position of an individual in caste is fixed forever, unless his entire group tries particularly hard to move up. That is why sociologists say that caste system is a ‘closed’ system. In comparison, class is an ‘open’ system, because of the general possibility of individual mobility.
2. The individual has not be depend upon his group to move up. He may work hard, try newer avenues of improving upon his economic condition and move up from lower class to middle class and so on.
3. Also we should remember that caste derives its legitimacy from religion, which is not the case with class. Caste is based on the notions of purity and pollution, which assumes that an individual is born in a caste according to the merits earned during his previous incarnation. The Brahimins are ritually the purest and are at the top of the ritual hierarchy, at the bottom of the hierarchy are the those who considered least pure in the ritual sense. As one goes down the caste hierarchy, purity decreases while impurity increases and as one goes up, there is an increase in purity and decrease in impurity.
4. According to some sociologists, one of the hallmarks of caste system has been the practice of untouchability, which was legally abolished in 1955. Such a practice is not found in any other system of stratification.
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION
VERY SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1. Where do social inequality is found?
Ans. Social inequality is universally found.
Q.2. Define social stratification.
Ans. Social stratification is defined as division of a society into layers that are ranked and differ in terms of the distribution of privileges and resources.
Q.3. What is the area of deal of social stratification?
Ans. Social stratification deals with social inequality but not with all types of social inequality.
Q.4. What is the position or relation of gender and age inequalities with the social stratification?
Ans. Inequalities of gender and age are not the inequalities of social stratification.
Q.5. What is basic of division of society according to Karl Marx? (V. Imp.)
Ans. According to Karl Marx, the basic division of society was in terms of classes. He had refused or mentioned mainly two social classes:
(i) Capitalists and classes of the people.
(ii) Labourers (or Haves and Have nots).
Q.6. What was correction made by sociologist Max Weber in Karl Marx’s notion of social classes or social division?
Ans. Max Weber corrected Karl Marx’s notion by saying that besides class, status and power were the other principles of stratification.
Q.7. Mention in brief any two features of caste system prevailed in India.
Ans. 1. Caste has its basis in Hinduism.
2. Caste is an outstanding example of the status group.
SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1. “Division of Labour is universally found in human societies.” Explain the statement giving some examples.
Ans. The statement that division of labour is universally found in human societies. Even those societies that lack specialization and complexity, like hunting and food-gathering societies, do have jobs allocated to people on the a basis of sex and age. Women carry out tasks that are different from those that men do. Similarly, jobs assigned to people of different age-groups are also different. The tasks that different people perform in a society are complementary. Because of the work people carry out, their life-styles acquire an identity of their own. For instance, the house of a carpenter will have a workshop where he does wood-work. The house of a weaver will have a loom.
Q.2. How will you prove that no society is completely homogenous? (M. Imp.)
Ans. Most of the sociologists believe and favour in this truth that no society in the world is completely (or 100 percent) homogenous, where groups look alike, as do the individuals. Rather what you find in a society is ‘difference’.
(i) Women’s work is different from that of men.
(ii) People of different age-groups of different works, and then, there are groups of people where one is different from the other.
(iii) One clan is different from the other because of its association with a different totem.
(iv) One caste is different from the other because of its occupation.
Q.3. Differences between individuals and groups show only prevailing diversity and not equality. How? Make clear.
Ans. 1. Difference between individuals and groups is a universal characteristic. It does not imply that one group or individual is superior to the other, or it enjoys more privileges than the other. In other words, difference does not imply ranking be inequality. It only shows that diversity exists.
2. Our first point here is that we should distinguish the idea of difference from the idea of inequality. By difference, we mean the existence of certain dissimilarities between the objects or units under consideration. But these dissmilarities are complementary.
3. Men and women are different in their biological compositions, but it is their complementariness that is the basis of reproduction. Weavers are different from carpenters, but they are dependent upon each other for the goods they respectively produce. Weavers buy wooden objects from carpenters while carpenters buy shawls or mats from weavers.
4. By inequality, we imply a distribution of privileges and resources, as a consequence of which some are more privileged or better placed than others. Or, in other words, some have under their control more resources than others. What results is a ranking of people and their groups.
Q.4. Describe significance of Caste in Contemporary India.
Ans. Significance of Caste in Contemporary India: In Contemporary India, class system has become quite important. But we should not infer that caste has become irrelevant. This is so for the following reasons.
1. Many studies show that caste is important in matters of marriage.
2. Caste also specifies the rituals people perform.
3. Associations are formed on the basis of caste.
4. The caste associations may establish banks, schools, colleges, rest houses and hospitals, etc., in the name of their castes.
5. In the fields of politics, caste is significant factor in the mobilization votes. The members of a caste may constitute what has come to be known as ‘vote-bank’.
Q.5. Answer the following three points:
(a) The system of caste has lost its purity. How?
(b) In some way caste system has promited unity among its members. How?
(c) Castes had been trying to more upwards. How?
Ans. (a) The above elucidation of caste, its nature and attributes is true only in an ideal typical fashion. A of now, the system of caste has lost its purity under the influence of humanitarian values and other forces of modernization. Urbanization and communication have also broken down the rigour of inter-caste prejudices and antipathies.
(b) The unity of a caste results from the characteristics shared by members. It, however, should not give the impression that each caste is autonomous. It is not isolated as may be the case with tribal societies. Each caste depends upon the other caste because each one of them specializes in a particular occupation. The unity in the village follows from inter-caste dependence.
(c) It also seems that since the birth related factors determine caste, it cannot be changed. But it is not really true. Right from the ancient times, there have been cases of castes trying to move up in the hierarchy (the ranked order) of castes. This is the process of upward mobility whereby lower castes try to change their styles of living in the direction of upper castes. This process is known as Sanskritization.