According to Tumin, the nature of Social Stratification becomes clear from its following features:
1. Social Stratification is a Social Phenomenon:
Stratification is social because it does not represent biologically caused inequalities. It is true that biological factors like age, sex, strength can also serve as the basis on which the status or strata and distinguished.
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These factors do not determine social superiority or inferiority until these are recognised by society. For example, a man attains the position of chief executive officer in a company not on the basis of his sex or age but by the reason of his education, training and skill which are socially recognised and more important than biological traits.
Tumin observes that stratification system is:
(a) Governed by social norms and sanctions,
(b) Different factors may influence/disturb social stratification and lead to instability, and
(c) Intimately connected with other systems of society such as the political, religious, family, economic, educational and others.
2. It is Very Ancient:
History tells us that social stratification has been a very ancient phenomenon. Right in their early stages of evolution the society including small societies and wandering tribes, got stratified into a hierarchy of social classes.
The works of ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle contain accounts of social stratifications in Greek City- states. Stratification on the basis of such factors like age, sex, physique and economic position was present in ancient societies. Ancient Indian, Chinese and European thinkers were deeply concerned with economic, social and political inequalities.
3. Social Stratification is in Diverse Forms:
The stratification system has never been uniform in all societies. For example, Ancient Roman society was divided into Patricians and Plebians, Aryan society was divided into four Varnas (Brahmins, Kshalriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras) The Greek society was divided into freemen and slaves.
Ancient Chinese society was divided into the mandarins, merchant farmers and soldiers. Thus each ancient society was a stratified society but on different bases. This was also true of the medieval societies and it is has been true of all modern societies. In all contemporary societies’ caste, class and estate have been the three general basis of stratification.
4. Stratification is Universal:
Social stratification is a universal phenomenon. It characterizes every society living in every nook and corner of the world, all societies, there are rich and poor, haves and have-nots educated and uneducated, higher castes and lower castes, nobility and commonality are universally present. It is present in all Asian, Africans and European societies Stratification is universal and we can study it everywhere in the world.
5. Stratification is Consequential:
Consequences of Social stratification can be described in two parts: Life Chances and Life Style. Life Chances refers to inequality in respect of rate or incidences of infant mortality, longevity, physical and mental illnesses, childlessness, marital conflict, separation and divorce.
Life Style refers to the distinctive features of status groups. For example, life style of those who share common economic positions, and socio-economic positions and attributes of those who share common life styles.
All social classes living in the common framework of culture, however, have different styles of life. Living within the framework of Indian Culture various Indian communities and classes have different styles of life. Social Stratification acts as a source of somewhat different life styles and life chances.