Research Paper on Social Stratification: Forms, Approaches and Impact

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1707 Words
Date:  2023-01-24


Social stratification is the grouping of people in a nation or society into layers made up of social groups in accordance to their comparative power, occupation, income, wealth, race or sex (Goldthorpe, 2017). There are several systems of stratification which include social class, caste system, feudal system and apartheid. This paper aims to discuss these forms of stratification, the approaches by the Registrar General's scale and the National Statistics and Socioeconomic Classification to identifying social class, the Marxist and functionalist views in relation to class struggle and social order respectively, and the influence of social stratification to members of the society.

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Forms of Social Stratification

The social class stratification system splits a society into an order of social and economic statuses for example lower class, working class, middle class. These are determined by the level of education, financial resources and power that the people have. People of the same class have the same lavel of access to these factors. According to a survey done by the BBC, the United Kingdom has seven different classes, the elite who take about 6% of the population, the established middle class, the technical middle class, the new affluent workers, the emergent service workers, the traditional working class, and the precariat.

In the caste system of stratification, people are divided according to race or ethnicity, religious or economic status. In this system, membership of a group is determined by birth and fixed for one's entire lifetime. Offspring automatically become members of their parents' castes. In the United Kingdom there are South Asian and other communities that are attributed to a caste.The feudal system of stratification was predominant in Europe between the eight and fourteenth centuries. In this system, at the top were the kings, followed by barons, then bishops, knights and the peasants occupied the bottom position. The apartheid system of stratification was based on a notion of racial superiority. This system was rampant in South Africa in the period between 1948 and 1994 (Clarke & Worger, 2013). The black South Africans were positioned at the bottom, followed by the Indians and the Whites were considered the most superior in this system.

The Registrar General's and the National Statistics and Socioeconomic Classification Approach to Identifying Social Class

The Registrar General's approach classifies the population into six classes based on occupation: Professional, managerial and technical, skilled non-manual, skilled manual, partly skilled, and unskilled (Kirby, 1999). The National Statistics and Socioeconomic Classification (NS-SEC) has various approaches to classifying people. These include official and sociological approaches (Rose & Pevalin, 2001). The official classifications include classes based on occupation, and classes based on socio-economic groups. The sociological approaches are the Goldthorpe class schema and occupational scales (Rose & Pevalin, 2001).

Advantages and Disadvantages of These Approaches

These approaches by the NS-SEC had their advantages and disadvantages. The official approaches, occupation based and socio-economic approaches, are advantageous in that they make reliable parsimonious pointers of the social position of individuals (Connelly, Gayle & Lambert, 2016). These approaches also play a key role in measuring and identifying health inequalities in the society and hence help in the planning and targeting healthcare facilities, and resources distribution. This approach, however, had disadvantages. For instance, it had no clear theoretical basis, and therefore, it had no clear rules to guide researchers on how it might be best used for analysis (Rose & Pevalin, 2001). It also did not adequately represent women's position in the social structure.

The sociological approaches have some advantages over official approaches. For instance, the Goldthorpe schema has a more satisfactory and theoretical basis (Rose & Pevalin, 2001). This approach also identifies and includes the self-employed group which was excludes in the official occupational and socio-economical approach. The Goldthorpe schema also broadly differentiates positions other than persons in accordance to their relationships in their places of work. The sociological approach however has some disadvantages. It fails to provide a theoretical justification why choices of friendship are a primary method of society structuring. The separation of the social dimensions of social stratification from economic dimensions is also viewed as essentially flawed (Rose & Pevalin, 2001).

Factionalized Views

There are many factionalized views that stratification contribute to social order. The main principle of the structural factionalism regards a societies as complex systems of interdependent and interrelated parts and every part of the society can significantly influence each other hence contributing to social order. The order is maintained because every part of the society exist because of the vibrant function to perform and ultimately maintain the stability or existence of the society as complete. Hence, order is maintaining because the existence of any part in the society can only be explained if the particular function is identifiable for the whole society. The existence of social stratification is vital because it mainly fulfils the needs of the systems. According to the functional view stratification maintain order because its an unavoidable in nature and its necessary for the smooth running of a society (Kerbo,2017). There must be distribution of people a society hence order is maintained. The social structure mainly donated by a system and the existence of the social structure and its function is beneficial to conservation of stable order.

Class Struggle

Class struggle can also be regarded to as class conflict or class warfare. This is the antagonism or tension in a society. This is considered to exist because of conflict of interest between people. this type of outlook can call socialism and Marxism. According to Marxists view of class struggle there mainly two type of classes of people. the bourgeoisie mainly controls the means of production and the capital, while the proletariats mainly provide labor. Hence Marx consider that there has been a scuffle between the two classes of people. this struggle is referred as the class struggle. According to Karl Marx class struggle only happens when the rich people who own business(bourgeoisie) pay wages to works (proletariats) to the products sell. The worker lacks the say for the money they are payed because they are depended of the money and the job (Selwyn, 2014). The class struggle can take different forms. In particular it can take economic form, political form, and ideological struggle.

How Social Stratification Influences the Health, Education, And Wealth of Citizens

Social stratification has significant influence to health, education and wealth to the citizen of UK. Social stratification influences health, in UK social stratification has far reaching impacts.


Social stratification affects both physical and mental health. The ability to receive adequate medical health care, life expectancy and nutrition is influenced by social stratification. The social and economic condition influences a persons and groups health status difference. The social stratification also influences individual or groups mental health because difference classes mainly have different level of access to better treatment and hence this result to different encounters of mental health (Rex, 2018).


Education attainment is mainly tied with social stratification. The upper class in the social stratification have better chances of acquiring a higher degree in prestigious school as compared to the low class. Education is one of the major components in the social class stratification. This affect both directly and indirectly (Rex, 2018). Indirectly in regard to better job attainment for the benefit of higher education hence earn them better salaries and directly because the upper class puts them at an advantage of receiving better education.


This is the abundance of possession which are valuable or moment. The social stratification highly influence wealth distribution. The upper class are regarded as more wealth and they have better probability of becoming wealthier. This is because the good access to better health care and education which influence the job, they land to which in most instance they are well paying. This influence more wealth generation rate as compared to the lower class in the social stratification.

Concept Of 'Under Class' And 'Super Class'

This sociological concept by Charles Murray regarding the underclass is comparatively new. The concept regards the underclass as those individuals who lack proper skill, employment, wealth, income and the stand out mainly as the ordinary society while the super class is the direct opposite of the underclass and they are the wealthy society. The concept regards the underclass as those who surplus the globalized community because production can be established anywhere if cheap labor is available (Weber, 2018). In the United Kingdom underclass is developing and according to Murray underclass are mainly defined by their behavior because they are more unkempt and live in littered homestead.


In conclusion the sociological theories have shown the existence of social class stratification and mobility is quite possible in Britain classes. there are various sociological theories that attempt to explain the social stratification. Marxism for example, he emphasis on social mobility and class struggle. On the other hand, functionalism argue that stratification contribute to social order.


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Goldthorpe, J. H. (2017). Social inequality and social integration. In Social Policy and Public Policy (pp. 32-40). Routledge.

Kerbo, H. (2017). Social stratification. The WileyBlackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 1-4.

Kirby, M. (1999). Measuring social class. In Stratification and Differentiation (pp. 6-23). Palgrave, London.

Rex, J. (2018). The concept of race in sociological theory. In Race and Racialism (pp. 35-56). Routledge.

Rose, D., & Pevalin, D. J. (2001). The national statistics socio-economic classification: Unifying official and sociological approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social class (No. 2001-04). ISER Working Paper Series.

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Selwyn, B., & Miyamura, S. (2014). Class struggle or embedded markets? Marx, Polanyi and the meanings and possibilities of social transformation. New Political Economy, 19(5), 639-661.

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