Essay about Social Stratification in India and the United States

Essay about Social Stratification in India and the United States

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As a result of increasing populations, various governments around the world have developed socially stratified societies as a means to control their inhabitants. In these societies “people are hierarchy divided and ranked into social strata…and do not share equally in basic resources that support survival” (Haviland, 2008; 258). More specifically, the Hindu cast system in India and the social class system in the United States of America are two examples of social stratification that have been developed to control a large population into a manageable number of social categories. Although these two forms of taxonomy are distinct and unique in their own right, they are very similar in the sense that they control a large heterogeneous group of people with many diverse values and norms, by regulating the roles that each stratum plays in society. However, as a consequence of classifying people into various social categories with different roles and interests, many inequalities have surfaced. In essence, these inequalities are a result of the value and influence that each stratum carries in the society as a whole.
The social cast system in India is a form of social stratification that originates from the Hindu religion. Due to the religious belief in karma, this system is composed of “closed social [classes]… in which the membership is determined by birth and fixed for life” (Haviland, 2008; 259). In other words, the upward mobility for people of a lower cast into a higher cast is nearly impossible due to the fundamental belief that cast is determined by “ritual purity” or, the amount of religious influence in accordance with prestige held by each group (Haviland, 2008; 259). As a consequence, members of a certain social cast are confined to their stratum’s distinct occupations, customs, guidelines and limitations. For example, the Dalit cast is the lowest cast possible in India which is composed of people who are regarded as the “untouchables” (Haviland, 2008; 260). These people are considered impure and are commonly subjected to humiliation, segregation, and discrimination by the higher casts. Individuals who are part of this cast are also exploited for their cheap labor and as in all other casts, must marry endogomously into their respective cast in order to maintain the integrity of their family’s blood line. On the other hand, the Kshatriya cast is the s...


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...tional and cultural beliefs that the wealthier classes are superior to the poorer classes and therefore, are held in higher regard. For instance, although laws against segregation and discrimination have been passed, discrimination still prevails socially in both India and the United States (Haviland, 2008; 260). Inequalities are still present and privileges are still given to the higher strata that are not given to the lower strata. This makes being a part of the lower strata unfairly disadvantageous. Despite efforts to equalize social class, there will always be inequality due to social stratification that negatively impact lives are all over the world



Works Cited

Alvarez, Louis and Andrew Kolker. (Director). (2001). People Like Us. [Videotape]. Boston: PBS Video.

Davis, F. James. (1991). Who is Black?: On Nation’s Definition. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. (82-122).

Haviland, William A ., Harald Prins, Dana Walrath & Bunny McBride. (2008). Cultural Anthropology (12th ed.).(250-266)

Huff, Daniel D. (1992) Upside-Down Welfare. In Public Welfare. (177-183).

Sacks, Karen Brodkin. (1996). How Did Jews Become White Folks. Race. 78-102.

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