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Chapter 7

SOC 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Class Consciousness, John Kenneth Galbraith, Vaishya

Course Code
SOC 100

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Global Stratification
Aims and objectives:-
To understand basis system of social stratification
To understand various factors determining social class
To understand various views on universality of social stratification
To understand maintenance of stratification by the elite
To understand Comparative social Stratification
To understand Global Stratification: Three world
To understand theories on national stratification
To understand maintaining Global Stratification
To understand Strains in Global Stratification
7.1. Systems of social stratification:
Social stratification is the division of the nations or even the layers of groups of people within
a nation. Social stratification is a system in which groups of people are divided into layers
according to their relative property, power and prestige. The system stresses on ranking a group
at large rather than an individual. Every society stratifies its members. However these inequities
maybe differ with the society itself. Gender is considered as a basis for stratification universally.
7.1.1. Slavery:
The essential characteristics of slavery are that some individual owns other individual(s). All
civilizations and religious scripts deal with slavery. The reasons that lead to slavery maybe be
summed up as three.
Debt: Some societies allowed creditors to enslave defaulted debtors

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Crime: Here, instead of a capital punishment or life imprisonment, the convict is
enslaved by the victim’s family as a compensation for their loss.
War: During war the conquerors enslave the vanquished.
According to historian Gerda Lerner, women were the first to be enslaved throughput warfare. Conditions of slavery:
The terms and conditions for slavery can be varied across the globe.
o It can be either temporary or permanent: Sometimes the slaves are set free as a part of
some special occasion or they maybe enabled to buy them self out of slavery.
o Slavery can be inheritable: Children of slaves were slaves themselves. This is not a
necessity. They can also be free.
o Slaves need not be powerless and poor: However the instance of slaves being rich and
powerful is rare.
7.1.1..2. Bonded Labor in the New World:
Otherwise known as indenture service, bonded labor is a form of slavery, whereby the people
who wanted to start a new life in American colonies, arrange a ship’s captain to pay for the
passage on credit. The wealthy colonialist may pay for the passage upon their arrival and these
individuals who make the passage would become the colonialists’ servant for a particular time
period. Once the time period is over, the individuals are set free. However if these bonded
labor’s try to escape, they are tabooed as outlaws, hunted down and bought back. Slavery in the new world:
When the bonded labor failed to meet the growing demand, the next option were the Native
Americans. However this failed as they escaped the clutches of the masters and has skills to
survive in wild. After the failure of this attempt the new victims were the Africans. The
colonialist succeeded to a large extends in their venture. In order to justify this, the U.S slave
owners developed an ideology that slaves are inferior and the arrangement of master-slave was
necessary and fair. The slave states even passed as law making slavery heritable. Many more
laws for controlling the slaves were passed by these states. Slavery Today:
Many forms of slavery still persist. It was only in 1980s that the slavery was made illegal in
Mauritania and Sudan. The enslavement of children for work and sex still persist as a problem in
Africa, Asia and South America.
7.1.2. Caste:

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Under this system a person’s status in a society is determined by his birth. This status is lifelong
and cannot be undone by the person’s personal achievements. According to sociology a caste
system is build on ascribed status. The societies that follow such a system practices endogamy,
i.e. marrying within their own groups and prohibiting inter caste marriages. Untouchability is a
form or caste stratification. India’s Religious Castes:
One of the best examples of the caste system is the Indian Religious Caste System and had been
in existence for almost three thousand years. The Indian caste system divides the population as
Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra and dalit. These castes are again divided into thousand
subcastes or jatis. Each jati has a specialized occupation. In India there had been a time when
even the shadow of the dalits could contaminate the high class people. Though the Indian
government has abolished untouchability, it still persists in some villages of the country.
Moreover the caste system is very much vibrant in the country. Though the federal government
has taken steps to abolish caste system, it a very far of dream. South Africa:
South Africa faced the problem of Apartheid, whereby individuals were classified by law on the
basis of races into four groups, Europeans (whites), Africans (blacks), Colored (mixed races),
and Asian. These classification dictated how people would live, work and go to school etc. After
a long struggle, in 1994 Nelson Mandela, a black was elected as president of the country and
many of these discriminations were abolished and new rights were confined. U.S. Racial Caste System:
When slavery ended in the United States, racial caste system emerged. The whites considered
themselves superior to the African Americans.
7.1.3. Estate:
The origin of the estate stratification system can be traced back to the middle ages in Europe.
The society were divided into three estates, they are:
First Estate: It consists of the nobility, the wealthy families that ruled the country. They
owned the land but were never engaged in agriculture. The only responsibility of the
nobility is to defend the kind, administer their land and live a ‘genteel’ life worthy of
their high position.
Second Estate: It consists of the clergy. Since the English followed the system of
primogeniture, i.e. allowing only the first born to inherit the property, often the second
born joined the clergy. The church held vast power in the society. The power vested in
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