PrimaryComponents of Social Stratification
Socialstratification is a system that ranks individuals in a hierarchy. Theranking can be based on wealth, social status or authority(Gorlinski, 2013). Gorlinski further states that the position ofindividuals in the hierarchy has influences one’s family as well associal life. In advanced horticultural societies, stratification wasa very common practice due to societal advancement. Societiesimproved farming practices and techniques (Angle, 2011).
According toAngle, the stratification system intensifies as societies advanceregarding wealth and more complicated social structures arise. Inthe nations that had gone a step ahead, their methods of farming weredeveloped, and the division of labor was marked. The society assuresbetter food supply and the availability of surplus. The existence ofsurplus results to the specialization of roles. Availability ofadequate food means that some people no longer have to engage in foodproduction.
The art of metalwork was a success for many societies as they shifted from simplehorticulture to more technical agriculture by making weapons andtools. This period was characterized by rapid increases in populationand variations of people socially began to take shape.
Horticulturegreatly differs from subsistence agriculture. In agricultureploughing and cultivation are done on large tracts of land. Advancedhorticulture uses simple tools such as digging sticks and hoes forcultivation. In horticultural technologies, there is access to thehighest layers which quickly get depleted their mineral resources andremain bare while the subsistence strategy allows access to the deep,fertile layers of the soil
Structure of the Society Maintaining the Ranking System
Socialstratification in advanced societies led to the rise of a formalizedand organized societal structure (Keister et.al, 2012). Kinship tiesunited the members of the society. They were the simplest socialstructures. Close family members maintained ties for generations inthe villages, and together they formed a clan. The head of a clan wasthe most authoritative and influential individual. Advancedhorticultural societies sometimes consist of many people theysupport specialists producing various products such as boats, salt,shells, pottery, utensils and war items.
In the advancedhorticultural societies, the land is communally owned and inheritedthrough males. Women are the most active economically. They areengaged in production for their kinsmen and husbands. Women transfertheir kin group through marriage from their father’s to theirmarriage partners. Women hold very low status in their new homesafter marriage. They barely achieve any respect or influence untilold age.
When people inthe advanced horticultural societies came to the realization thatspecialization was crucial in the society, they integrateddifferentiation in their daily practices. Differentiation enhancedadaptation to new environmental conditions.
The politiciansand the chiefs were obliged to be pious and generous in theirdealings. They distributed food and other resources in theirvillages. Selfishness was greatly condemned by the society. In thecase of chiefs and other politicians being selfish would result inloss of fame and popularity. It could also lead to loss of power. Thepolitical leaders had to try all efforts to seek popularity andinfluence in their villages.
Relationshipbetween Components to the Subsistence Strategy and Economic
There is asexual division of labor hence increasing production. Women areassigned to the simple chores and tasks while men do the hard tasks.The chiefdom was a social unit that developed due to the need tounite different villages. It was a form of political organizationthat came to emerge among the advanced horticultural societies. Thechiefdom unified people politically. Many small villages wereintegrated into a single unit for ease of administration.
Theadministrative officials, supervisors, chiefs and ceremonialattendants, high priests and warriors were given high status in thesociety. Specialists who worked fulltime were freed from tasks in thefarms and became consultants. During the advanced horticulturalsocieties, political systems were hereditary. The chief’s presidedover important ceremonies such as harvesting, the organization ofpeople on the farms and also led conquests (Angle, 2011). Craftworkers, entrepreneurs and people in other specialties requiredassurance of being before they could shift from horticulture totrade. Assurance of subsistence provided for smooth, consistent andsteady economic distribution as societal members served in theirvarious specialties.
TheRole Played by Religion and Belief
The relationshipbetween religion and social stratification is a complicated one.Religious stratification is evident when members of some religions orreligious groups have more access to power, privilege, prestige andother resources. Whether religious preferences causes socialstratification or vice versa or are the results of other factors is atopic of debate.
According toKarl Marx, religion offers a worldview that helps maintain socialinequality by justifying oppression. Religion has been viewed as aforum that justifies and promotes the ills of society, includingsocial class and stratification. According to social conflict theory,the inequalities and injustices existent in the society such as race,class or gender stratification are reflected within the religiousinstitutions.
Conflictanalysis theorists assert that religion legitimizes oppression andsupports maintenance of the status quo in the society. They alsobelieve that religious practices and rituals define group boundarieswithin the society, thereby supporting an “us vs. them “mentality.Owing to the fact that most religious have historically beenpatriarchal in nature, the us-them mentality extends stratificationof genders within religious organizations, with males being allowedpositions of power and authority while women are assigned tosubservient roles.
According toMarx, religion is more of an idea rather than faith. It lays moreemphasis on social demands and aspirations than on spirituality. Hebelieved that religion is more of a doctrine of the rulers. Religionsupports the status quo. In this approach, smaller groups end upbelieving in the superiority of the social order which pins them downby internalizing the ideology of the royalty. Rather than supporting,social change and growth, Marx believed that religion hinders them byempowering inferior groups to lay their eyes on the otherworldlythings (Anderson &Taylor, 2002).
Smith and Farris(2005) found that there are four requisites necessary for thedevelopment of religious stratification religious pluralism,religious prejudice, competition and differential power. Religiouspluralism occurs when many different religions coexist within asociety. The second condition is prejudice. Most religions can existtogether and can admire what is good in each other. However, if thecompetition of a scarce resource such as land occurs, it can lead tostratification. Differences in power can cause social stratificationwhen the larger and more powerful religions tend to dominate over thesmaller ones. When the smaller religious organizations feel inferior,they may tend to resist the dominance of the larger organizations.
Angle, J.(2011).The Surplus Theory of Social Stratification and SizeDistribution of Personal Wealth. Social Forces, GS (2), 293
Gorlinski, G.(2013).The History of Agriculture. New York: Britannica EducationalPub in association with Rosen Educational Services.
Keister, L,McCarthy. & Finke, R. (2012). Religion Work and Inequality. ,Bingley, U.K: Emerald