Social differences

The social differences can be categorized in accordance with caste, class, ethnicity, age, gender and race. Social difference within the society provides the access, ownership, privileges, rights and rewards to one and deprived the others from the facilities. These kinds of social differences could be observed everywhere; however its degree is differ time to time, place to place, and culture to culture. This is a kind of social distinction based on societal norms and values. Some social differences created by the state authority in the due course human history and civilization. We cannot imagine the egalitarian society because it is unavoidable from our life. The assigned rules and regulations make difference from one to another. The social differences give the different roles and responsibilities to the people. Social differences create the social hierarchy in accordance with social differences. There would be superior inferior, higher and lower position, forward and backward, pure and impure. Every society lays on social differences which is inherent nature of society. There are some social difference such as male and female, high caste and low caste, rich and poor, young and old, manager and workers, teacher and students, peasants and merchant, shopkeepers  consumers. The nature of difference also depends upon both biological and socio-cultural factors such as male and female is an example of biological factors whereas high caste and low caste is another socio-cultural factor. Sometime income, profession, specialization, power and authorities determine the differences within the people. On the basis of these things society assign the different roles and responsibilities, their status, position and even rank based on social differences. The people who have political power, senior, educated, rich have high facilities and privileges than the marginal, deprived and exploited people of the society. The societal difference separates the work of one another. It categorizes their works, professions and positions according to individual’s skills, knowledge, property, their ethnic roots, performance and so on. Some extent, differences creates the inequality, exclusion and deprivation. Differentiation within the people determines their social recognition and identity. Social difference creates the discrimination that hindering the societal progress, development and growth of the society. Social differences is also depends on cultural beliefs, values, ethos, norms, and every day practices. It also determines the human behavior and their performances. Social differences can be created by both ascribed and achieved processes. There are several struggles, and movements to abolish such differences; however it is impossible to form egalitarian society that orthodox Marxists imagine. The social difference can be reduced through different policies like reservation, inclusion and empowerment in the modern state. Some difference cause due to birth, accident and their capacity. 

Social Inequality

Social inequality is inherent features of all societies. It can be observed both in primitive and modern, preliterate and literate societies. Social inequality prevails everywhere. Inequality occurs if resources are unevenly distributed within the people. Social inequality refers to unequal distribution of resources, and opportunities. Inequality occurs as per social stratification of the society. Marxists argued that social inequality created through the resulting from the division of goods. Inequality depends on unequal distribution of wealth and power. In sociology, inequality should be studied within the social institutions- which are closest to daily human experiences. Inequality is a form of distance between poor and rich, the tenets and farmers and land lords, the unskilled workers and his boss. The power and wealth distributed in accordance with their status. Social inequality prevails as per division of goods and categories and their access. The degree of inequality differs place to place, culture to culture and society to society. It is resulting from the division of goods and division of works. The inequality creates through the deprivation and discrimination which is based on process of exclusion. It involves the adaptation of specific means to control and access to rewards the opportunities. Inequality occurs due to disproportionate share of power, prestige and other resources. The social stratification of the contemporary society generates the inequality which is based on the unfair rules for the distribution of resources, processes, unequal control and inheritance system. The economic inequality based on ownership, labor power, wages and business. Political inequality based on household authority, work place authority, party authority and state authority. Social inequality based unequal social relationship, network, assimilation and union. Capitalistic society fosters the social classes where rich family generates the surplus from the working classes or labor who are paid little. The differentiation between rich and poor are main components for the analysis Marxists. Feminists theorists analyze the issue of inequality as “a theory must recognize gender as system of inequality, assume that it is mutable rather than constant of necessary features of human societies, and [support] a commitment to a gender equitable system (Chafetz 2001:613). They will examine the system of oppression upon women both in public and private spheres. There might be inaccessibilities of resources, deprived from health and education facilities, ownership and property. Likewise, stratification in South Asia there is inequality on the basis of caste and ethnicity. People of this region perform their responsibilities in accordance with caste and ethnic division. The labor division is purely depends on purity and impurity, sacred and profane. The social hierarchy in South Asia influence economic activities deprived from the low caste people from the opportunities. The social grading makes one society affluent and suppress, oppress, and deprive the other groups. Some extent, social inequality forms the identity of group and society and determines their occupations and life chances. In the western world, we can also observe the racial base inequality particularly between black and white. Social inequality determines power, prestige, and authority. Modern society have been initiated many projects to make their egalitarian society such projects concern with inclusion, reservation and quota. State also lunch many programs to abolish caste, class, ethnicity and gender base social inequality.

Social Stratification

The division of society by vertical element is a hierarchy. The forms of social stratification can include those by class, by caste, and by achieved status. Stratification mainly ranks the categories of people. It shows the characteristics of the society rather than the individual differences, it is universal phenomena, however it is fluid. The world stratification derived from the stratum that refers to rank. In sociology social stratification signify the rank of the people or group within the specific society. It’s a system that categorizes the people rather than predictable rules.  According to Divis Mooore, “social stratification is a universal pattern because it has beneficial consequences for the operation of society”. In the stratification there would be unequal distribution of goods, service, prestige and unequal status. These things might be changes overtime upward, downward and horizontal. It shows the hierarchy within the people which might be closely related to power, prestige and property. The human behavior also based on the social stratification. The stratification which depends on economy shows the difference between “have” and “have not” and political stratification shows the distinction between powerful and powerless likewise social stratification shows the position in accordance with values, beliefs and inequality. Social stratification affects the everyday life of the people. The social inequality exists within social stratification which is largely structured and systematic that influences the different groups and individuals and their life opportunities. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology, defines the social stratification as, “a layer, or set of successive layers, of any deposited substance, layer of atmosphere, biological tissue, or other structure; social grade (The various strata of society).

In fact, it is a concept of layering the groups or individual like the layers of the rocks. The social stratification is far more complex than the geological stratification. The social stratification contains both material and symbolic significance. It’s a particular form of social inequality; the societal members are differentiating in terms of superiority, inferiority and equality.

Ogburn and Nimkoff, argued that “the process by which individuals and groups are ranked in more or less enduring hierarchy of status is known as stratification”.

Social stratification is a division of society into permanent group of categories linked with each other by the relationship of superiority and subordination” – Gisbert

Functional Approach to Stratification

The structural functional approach argued that societies constructed  through complex process of interrelated and interdependent parts where we explain each part influence or support one another to run the system, each part sustain because it play important role for the sustainability of the society. It also presumed that function of any part obviously function of whole structure. The structural functionalists argued that each part of the society equally contributes for the sustainability, harmony and equilibrium of the system. Society is constitutes by the different elements where each elements equally contributes to maintains the state of harmony as well and it play the important role for the function. The Davis Moore thesis stated that social stratification is a universal pattern which is equally beneficial to run the society. According to Davis, “Stratification depends on merit that would be important to run the society as well as productive. He argued that social stratification and inequality is important for the existence of the society and inequality is necessary that fulfill the demand of the society. Davis Moore thesis stated that every society is stratified thus, inequality is a universal phenomena. It is the part of the society which cannot be avoided. In fact, stratification is necessary to run the and its social system. The social inequality is necessary to run any society smoothly and it would be beneficial for the society at large. He also explain about the “social position”. There are some positions which are higher than the normal people. According to him higher position position carries more status and reward. He argued that, those who have highest rank (a) have greatest importance of the society (b) require the greatest training and talent (141). Structural functionalist argued that unequal social and economic reward were an unconsciously evolved device by which societies ensured that talented individuals were supplied with the motivation to undertake training which would gurantee that important social roles were properly fulfilled (Encyclopedia. com). It means that important function of the society performed by the most talented people of the society and they able to maintain the social system in decent order. They also fulfill the important need of the society. They stated that societies are distributed within the different positions such distributed position perform the different responsibilities as well. They stated that “any society must distribute its individuals and induce them to perform the duties of their positions. It must solve the problem of motivation at two levels to instill in the proper individuals the desire to occupy certain position and once in these positions the desire to perform the duties attached to them (Davis 1948, pp 366-367). He unable to specify the functional importance of given occupation and failed to explain how social inequality promotes the conflict within the society. Emile Durkheim also explained about the inequalities and he has explained two types of inequalities they are external and internal inequalities. In the division of labour he described external inequalities is created by birth and it is ascribed status such status could be seen in the pre-industrial societies. The internal inequalities could be seen in organic society or industrial society that may threaten the social order such inequalities based on the individual talent and capacity which is known as achieved status. For the proper functioning of industrial society, the people who are talent must have position and division of work must be based on the meritocracy, he also believed that inequality based on merit. If external inequalities were forced on individuals, “constraint alone, more or less violent and more or less direct, bind them to their functions, in consequences, only imperfect and troubled solidarity is possible (see Lukes 1973:175). He was more concern with moral integration and cooperation than he was with sufficient staffing of important position in the industry.

Conflict Approach of Social Stratification  

Conflict approach also deals about the inequality which primarily depends on the class conflict. His notion of “class struggle” analyzes the capitalistic structure of the society. In the capitalistic society upper class people have monopoly over the entire economy. They belong to wealthy families have ownership. The powerful class controls the economy and means of production likewise lower class neither have control over the mode of production nor the ownership what they produce. They work for the upper class and benefit goes to the owners. There have been continuous class conflicts since the down of history. According to Marx there have been conflicts between bourgeoisie (capitalists) and proletariat (wage labor). The long road of struggle is only possible when there is class-consciousness within the proletariat and at the end there is inevitable triumph of the proletariat and formed the classless society and establishes the communism system. Marx had exclusively defined the stratification on the basis of economic class “Marx concludes that the elimination of private property in any future communist nation would eliminate the extensive inequality and even social stratification itself. The argument of Max Weber is differs than Karl Marx he states that human being are not only divided through the economic ownership but also by the occupational skills, and power/party (See Gerth and Mills 1946:181-94). According to him, class could be define through two ways i.e. ownership and occupation. Marxist approach rejects the usual definition class which depends on the education, occupation, gender and so on.  Marx interpretation on class rightly depends on the means of production and control of the work. Marx not only talks about the upper-class and lower class but also explain the middle class as well. Weber’s argued that prestige can be gain through the property and some extent prestige also gains through other sources such as game, and intellectual capability. Sometime prestige leads the property. Hr also stated that power is generated through the wealth-power generate the class such class could be steam from the social prestige.  

Various aspects of Social Stratification

Caste System in Nepal

The caste system mainly depends on “Hindu hierarchal” position- that gained through the ascribed status. In caste system we observed that there is fixed arrangement of the people-one group is highly privileged and another group is least privileged. These privileges determine through birth. It has been categorized into four categories: Brahmin (priest and nobles), Kshatriya (ruler and worrier), Vaishya (traders, agriculturalists, cattle rears and businessman) and Shudra (artisans and entertainers). In caste stratification there would be ritual avoidance, restriction within the people. It determines through their occupations, marriage practice and inter and intra-group contact. Caste system is mainly predominant Hindu religious systems. It has been associated with matter of caste, religion, ritual and power. In the caste system, there have been fixed traditional occupations, prohibition, or social restriction.

Upper caste: Brahmin, Rajputs, Baniyas, Kayastha

Intermediate Caste: Ahir, Sunar and Kurmi

Lower Caste: Dhobi and Nai

All the activities of the people run in accordance with gotra, lineage and clan. The position of an individual determined through their role which is based on caste. In fact, caste system shows the independent relationship within the different group of people and there have been religious, psychological and physical discrimination among the people despite the legal ban.       

Ethnicity in Nepal

Ethnicity is seen as a set of socio-cultural features that differentiate ethnic group from others. Max Weber defined as a sense of common decent extending beyond kinship, religion, values, morality and etiquette. Fedrik Barth included four things to define the ethnicity (1) Biologically self-perpetuating population (2) sharing of cultural values and forms (3) field of communication and interaction (4) grouping that identifies itself and is identifies by others a constituting a category different from other categories of the same type.

Ethnicity particularly deals about the origin and background of the particular ethnic group that also include their language, food habits, origin, dress and so on. An individual identity or position formed on the basis of birth. They make their distinct position through the ethnicity is a kind of social stratification that differentiate people one from another and also shows the majority and minority. Within the ethnicity we would also observe a form of social prejudice, discrimination, segregation, suppression, oppression of majority group upon the minority group. These activities create the inequality in the different sphere of their life including social, political and economic sector. The majority and minority would be form on the basis of power and size. The stratification relation look at one or more ethnic group control the resources and other are deprived from its accessibility within the ethnic group we would see the relation of advantage and disadvantage, conquest, and defeat, access and prohibition. Ethnic differentiation depends on territory, ecology and culture. The ethnic stratification leads both differentiation and incorporation. The ethnic minority groups are also unequalize over the time of the history in Nepal in the name of unification, modernization and so on. In such process ‘central state’ use crusade against them, they are forcibly assimilate, their language distort and other cultural practices taken as barrier of development. All of these things initiate under the nation-state project. Therefore, there has been significant resistance and movement carried out against the central state. The constitution of 1990 recognized the fundamental rights and identity of the different ethnic groups. It describes the “country as multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and democratic and states. This notion respects the all caste, ethnic and religious groups and their ideology. This constitution should be brought fundamental change as well and promote the dignity of the entire citizen across the country.   

Gender and Social Stratification

Sex and Gender

‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’ are two different terms. Biological differences between male and female are called sex whereas socially and culturally constructed behavior is called gender. For example women deliver the child is related to sex. Women look after the children at home; it is their fate which is associated with socio-cultural practices that includes beliefs, customs, norms and values of the society. These socio-cultural phenomena determine the roles and responsibilities of women. Sex roles prescribe the different ways men and women supposed to act and different tasks they are expected to undertake. In Nepali society sexual differentiation can be seen as follows.

High SexualityLow sexuality
MessyNeat and clean

In fact we concluded that sex refers to biological differences, chromosomes, hormonal profile, internal and external sex organs, their physique and sound. It is based on the anatomical structure. Sex is connected with biological definition.  The term gender shows the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or famine. The term gender is related to imposed or adopted behavioral practices. Social and psychological conditions, for example daughter-in-law must be bowed their head on the feet of their mother-in-law and father-in-law.

Division of Labor by Gender in Nepali Society

The division of labor in any society is influenced by the certain set of rules. The social taboo determines responsibilities male and female, for instance, in Nepali society women are not allowed to plow the field. They engage in cooking, fetching water, care their children, collect firewood and fodders whereas male perform heavier agricultural works, engage in trade and business. Women perform her duty longer hours and less free time in compare to male. They have triple roles such as production, reproduction and community development. In Nepali society male plays the role as hunter and female role as gatherer. The role of children and older people is a bit different in household division of labor. In the rural society young children support their parents in household and agriculture works. They collect firewood, herding the animals and watch younger children of the family. Old generation may serve in village council and socialize their next generation. The gender division of labor in different society seems different for example, the role of women in Badi community is to earn money and feed the family, Thakali women run the business mainly in tourist centers and Chhetri women women tills the earth. Women roles and responsibilities has been associated with Dharma/karma, and pap/punya i.e. women bow their head on the feet of their husband and father-in-law early in the morning which is their main responsibility to be faithful with male.

Status of Nepali Women

The social position women in Nepal seem as discriminatory, oppressive and suppressive that could be proved through the following Sanskrit epigraph composed by ‘Tulsi Das:

ढोलक पशु क्षुद्र नारी
यी हुन तारणीकी अवतारी

The meaning of this epigraphs shows that women, untouchable caste and animals are the same thus they should live in hell. The religious faiths, taboos, beliefs and customary practices determine the roles and responsibilities of women in Nepal. Women faced different kinds of violence and torture in Nepal, thus, they faced the problems like oppression, suppression, and discrimination due to the patriarchal structure that force them to stay in inferior position. They are treated as the second class citizen due to negative attitudes towards the women that frequently observe in their everyday life. For example,

नारी चरीत्र पुरुस्य भाग्यँ देवो नजाना
कुतः मनुष्य (नारीको चरीत्र र पुरुषको भाग्य देवतालाई
थाहा हुन भने मान्छेलाई के थाहा हुन्छ)

‘Neither a god nor a man knows the fate of male and character of female’. When we turn the history of Nepal, we also find that the position of women seems praiseworthy they are the symbol of divine affection, love, faithfulness and power. In Vedic era “There is one famous saying in manu smirit ‘where women are honored there god would be happy.’ In ancient period there was also patriarchal society they follow the decisions of male they gave decisions with their different social position such as father, husband and son. The historical inscription of Lichhvi era shows that queen Rajyavati would like to immolate with her husband Dharma Deva (460 A.D.). It was social custom and each woman must be burn herself with their dead husband. In ancient period women were not allowed to call the name her husband. Widows should take permission to carry out any work. Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana introduced new law in 1910 v. s. that ensure that “if the daughter was unmarried until the age of 35, she would have equal right upon the parental property, however, that was not seen in practices”. The law of 2001 ensures that daughters have also equal ownership as son until their marriage. Nepalese women acquire their citizenship through their fathers and husbands but no one get citizen from the name of mother. Hindu women are not allowed to observe the cremation ceremony, a widow has to follow the rigid mourning rules at least one year after the death of their husband and she should not allowed to wear bangles and pote and applying vermillion powder in their head. In western Nepal, women are not permitted to stay at home during the menstruation period because it is considered as pollution and fate of women. They are forced stay at least 5-6 days in cowshed.

Educational Status of Women

The social restriction limits the women access to education. According to CBS 2011 Male  literacy  rate  is  75.1%  compared to  female  literacy  rate of  57.4% .Girls dropout in school is higher than male due to teen age marriage, negative attitudes, traditional beliefs and discrimination.

Legal Status of Women

The interim constitutions 2007 stated that all the castes, ethnicity, religion and sex should be guaranteed fundamental rights and current law given parental property rights to the girls.

Economics Status

Women are not decision-maker therefore; they are not entrusted with the freedom to participation in financial transaction. Economically women have no rights to parental property as welfare in the home. They bear 70% of the household burden and yet have no success to economic resources. Even doing the same work, they get lower wages as most of the women work as unskilled labor in carpet and garment factories and get low paid due to illiteracy (Luintel, 2000). Male’s influence can be easily observed in their household decisions. Women play a major role as they actively participated in the various farm activities 98.0% women in rural area actively participate in agricultural work.

Health Status

Lynn Bennet wrote that “men are endowed with the right to property by virtue of the biological fact of birth. Women’s right to property depend almost entirely upon the social facts of marriage (i.e. on their role as an wife)”. Women health status is miserable on the sense they are quite neglected since their childhood. Another important factor of miserable condition of health is work load i.e. aged women have to work more than young girls. Nepalese girls marry in the early age most of them are below 18 years. They don’t get nutrient foods even in the period of pregnancy. Due to the early age delivery there in high mortality rate in Nepal 515 died out of 100,000. Higher rate of maternal and child mortality shows the lower social status of women. Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2006, 44% of women receive antenatal care from skilled birth attendants (SBAs), that is, a doctor or nurse-midwife; only 29% of pregnant women make antenatal care visits during their pregnancy; and less than 19% of births take place with the assistance of SBAs in a health facility, whereas 81% take place at home. Most of these homebirths are assisted by family members, neighbors, or traditional birth attendants who may be trained or untrained; or the woman may be on her own. A large proportion of maternal and neonatal deaths occur during the 24 hours following delivery.

 Political status

In Nepalese history only few women come in the politics for example Queen Rajendra Laxmi act as regent of Rana Bahadur Shah. Dawrika Devi Thakurani became First Women Minister after the election of 2015. In 1917 women association was formed in Sirah to fight against the Rana regime. Yoga Maya revolt against injustice, widow marriage and violence against the women in Rana Period. The statistical figure shows that the women’s representation in politics seems very low. The constitution of 2047 stated that “each party should compulsorily choose 33% women candidates for the election”. In the CA election of 2008 and 2014 we can observe that there was equal representation of women from the all parties.

Social stratification vis-à-vis management and business administration

Social stratification is essential for the operation of the society. Single person and group with same rank and order do not give effective result in the sector of production and management. To get better result from the business companies there need to be stratification on the basis of expertise, skills and knowledge. In reality resources are distributed unequal basis in the highly stratified society. South Asian society normally stratified in accordance with caste, ethnicity, and religion such stratification not only allocate resources unfair basis but also assign the duties and responsibilities among them. Social stratification also influences the thoughts and actions of the people, societal values, and religious faiths that integrate the society through the moral values and socio-cultural ethics, which support to run the business organizations in decent order. The caste and ethnicity based society assign the separate work according to societal division that helps to fulfill the needs and expectations of one another. Social stratification also impacts on the consumer behavior that influences the production and growth. Social stratification also creates the hostile relationship between different stratified groups as whole. Stratification rightly impacts on consumer performance and consuming behavior. Social stratification normally explains about the hierarchal and unequal ways in which group can be formed in society. The societal stratification process mainly distributed the resources unevenly within the people that give the low chances to everyone so that it may give the idea for the improvement of the society particularly in the sector of division of labor and resource distributions. The fair distribution of wages, salaries, income and benefit sharing might give better result in the management and business sectors and address the different valued position in the state, market and business organizations. Social stratification provides the nature of social relationships, processes, structures and issues. It highlights the social structure. Social stratification and its unequal distributed power in the different sectors normally hinder the growth and development of society in general and business companies in particular. Social stratification could not completely abolish; however it could be reduce through different reform based activities such as social inclusion, reservation and quota such systems may gives the better chances in their everyday life. When we able to reduce the Social stratification there might be better chances of financial gain, employment, better position, income and improvement in their social mobility.           

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