Elements : Differentiation, Hierarchy, Ranking, Reward, Evaluation


Social stratification describes the concept of social discrimination within the people or group of people. It could be the basis of power, prestige, wealth, income and some other characteristics. 

The assumptions that are mainly underlined in the concept of Stratification are:



Social Inequalities or differences become social stratification when people are ranked hierarchically along some dimensions.


It means the inequality between people living in the same society on different basis. This Differentiation starts by the age of birth which first differentiates the child on the basis of sex, colour, etc.


Pitirim Sorokin, a Russian sociologist and philosopher, refers to two types of differentiation in his work on social differentiation: intra-group and inter-group differentiation


INTRA-GROUP : Intra-group differentiation refers to the differences that exist within a group or society. This type of differentiation can occur in various forms, such as differences in wealth, power, education, status, and other social factors. For example, within a given community, there may be individuals with high levels of wealth and education, while others may have lower levels of these same characteristics. These differences within the group can lead to tensions and conflicts, and can also result in a stratification system, where individuals are placed into different social classes based on their wealth, power, and other characteristics.

INTER-GROUP : Inter-group differentiation refers to the differences between groups or societies. This type of differentiation can occur between different ethnic groups, classes, nations, and other social categories. Inter-group differentiation can lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority, and can also result in social, economic, and political inequalities between groups. For example, one group may have access to better resources and opportunities, while another group may face discrimination and exclusion.


According to PLATO, "division of labour brings differentiation."

According to DURKHEIN, "differentiation of occupation and multiplication of industrial activities are an expression of the social differentiation which makes priority."


A central concept in stratification, signifying the ordering of social positions in a structure of superiority and inferiority.


The functions of hierarchy can be broadly categorized into two main categories: social order and coordination, and individual incentives.

  1. SOCIAL ORDER AND COORDINATION: Hierarchy helps to create a clear and structured social order within an organization. It assigns roles, responsibilities, and authority to individuals within the organization, which helps to ensure that tasks are carried out efficiently and effectively. The clear chain of command also facilitates communication and decision-making, allowing for a smooth flow of information and instructions within the organization.
  2. INDIVIDUAL INCENTIVES : Hierarchy can also serve as a motivator for individuals within the organization. Being part of a hierarchical structure can provide individuals with a sense of status and recognition, which can increase their motivation to perform well. Additionally, hierarchy can provide individuals with opportunities for growth and advancement, which can serve as an incentive to work hard and strive for success. Furthermore, a clear hierarchy can help to ensure fair and consistent distribution of rewards and recognition, providing individuals with motivation to perform well and achieve their goals.


Social differentiation may entail vertical or horizontal distinctions. As such it may not involve the concept of superiority or inferiority. In social hierarchy, whatever may be the criterion, people are arranged in a vertical order.


Social differentiation refers to the ways in which individuals or groups in a society are socially and economically separated based on certain characteristics. The following are some common bases of social differentiation:

  1. AGE : Age is a fundamental factor that can differentiate individuals in a society. Children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly are often treated differently based on their age.
  2. RELIGION : Religion can be a basis for social differentiation as individuals who follow different religions may have different beliefs, values, and cultural practices.
  3. EDUCATION : Education level is often a significant factor in social differentiation. Individuals with higher levels of education may have better job prospects and higher salaries, leading to greater social status and prestige.
  4. INCOME : Income is a major factor in social differentiation, as individuals with higher incomes often have greater access to resources, opportunities, and lifestyles.
  5. PRESTIGE : Prestige refers to the social status and reputation of an individual or group. This can be based on factors such as wealth, education, occupation, and family background.
  6. SEX : Sex is a fundamental basis of social differentiation, as males and females are often treated differently based on societal gender roles and expectations.
  7. OCCUPATION : Occupation is a major factor in social differentiation, as individuals with different jobs may have different levels of income, prestige, and access to resources.


Ranking refers to the relative position or status of individuals or groups within a social hierarchy. In a society, people are often ranked based on various characteristics such as wealth, income, education, occupation, and other cultural and social factors. This ranking determines a person's place in the social stratification system, which refers to the way that a society is organized into social groups based on economic, political, and cultural criteria.


  1. SOCIAL MOBILITY : Ranking can be used to determine a person's social mobility, or their ability to move up or down the social ladder. In some societies, social mobility is limited, and people are born into a certain social class, with few opportunities to move up or down the ladder. In other societies, social mobility is more fluid, and people can move between social classes based on their achievements, income, or other factors.
  2. PRESTIGE : The prestige associated with a person's social class or occupation is another important element of ranking in social stratification. Prestige refers to the respect, admiration, and status associated with a particular occupation or social class. Prestigious occupations, such as doctors or lawyers, tend to be higher in the social hierarchy, while lower-prestige jobs, such as manual labor, are typically lower in the hierarchy.
  3. WEALTH : Wealth is another key factor in social ranking. People with higher levels of wealth tend to be ranked higher in the social hierarchy, while those with lower levels of wealth are ranked lower. This is because wealth can provide access to better education, healthcare, and other resources, which can improve a person's social and economic status.
  4. EDUCATION : Education is also an important factor in social ranking. People with higher levels of education are typically ranked higher in the social hierarchy, while those with less education are ranked lower. This is because education can provide access to better job opportunities and higher levels of income, which can improve a person's social and economic status.
  5. OCCUPATION : Occupation is another key element of social ranking. People are often ranked based on their occupation, with certain jobs being considered more prestigious or high-status than others. This can determine a person's place in the social hierarchy and their access to resources, privileges, and opportunities.


Reward refers to the tangible and intangible benefits that individuals receive based on their social status. These benefits can take many forms, including income, wealth, education, and access to resources. For example, individuals in higher social classes typically earn higher salaries and have access to better educational opportunities, healthcare, and housing. On the other hand, individuals in lower social classes are often paid lower wages and may have limited access to these resources.

The concept of reward is central to social stratification because it reinforces the existing power dynamics and helps to maintain the social hierarchy. Higher social classes are able to use their rewards to accumulate more wealth, power, and status, which then further solidifies their position in society. On the other hand, lower social classes are often unable to access these benefits, which can limit their opportunities and reinforce their lower status.

The rewards associated with social status can also have a significant impact on individuals' self-esteem and sense of identity. For example, people who occupy higher social classes often feel a sense of pride and superiority, while those in lower classes may feel shame and a sense of inferiority.


Evaluation is one of the elements of social stratification, which refers to the process of assigning value, worth, or status to individuals or groups in a society based on various characteristics such as wealth, power, education, and occupation. In the context of social stratification, evaluation refers to the ways in which individuals and groups are judged, compared, and ranked according to their position in the social hierarchy.

Evaluation is a crucial component of social stratification because it helps to define and maintain the power dynamics within a society. Those who occupy higher positions in the social hierarchy are often perceived as more valuable or worthy than those in lower positions, and this perception is reinforced through a variety of cultural, economic, and political mechanisms.

For example, the education and wealth of an individual are often used as key indicators of their worth, with those who hold advanced degrees or have high incomes being viewed as more valuable than those who do not. Similarly, occupation is often seen as a way of evaluating individuals and groups, with certain jobs being seen as more prestigious or important than others.

In sum, evaluation is an important element of social stratification that helps to reinforce and maintain the existing power structures within a society. It plays a significant role in shaping the perceptions and experiences of individuals and groups, influencing everything from access to resources and opportunities to the way people are treated and respected by others.


Social stratification is mainly based on Differentiation, ranking, evaluation and rewarding and all these topics clarify the social stratification in a better way. The chapter describes all the difference and the reasons of the inequality.