Friday, 22 January 2021

COMPARISON BETWEEN CASTE AND CLASS

 DEFINITION OF CASTE

1. Social stratification can be referred to as division of society into strata or layers that are superimposed one above the other.

2. According to Mayer, “Social Stratification is a system of differentiation which includes a hierarchy of social positions whose occupants are treated as superior, equal or inferior, relative to one another in socially important respects.”

3. As Dr. G.S. Ghurye says, any attempt to define caste is ‘bound to fail because of the complexity of the phenomenon’.

 

DEFINITION OF CLASS

1. A social class is ‘a category or group of persons having a definite status in society which permanently determines their relations to other groups’.

2. Ogburn and Nimkoff, ‘A social class is the aggregate of persons having essentially the same social status in a given society.’

3. According to Giddens, “a class is a large-scale grouping of people who share common economic resources, which strongly influence the type of lifestyle they are able to lead.”

4. According to Horton and Hunt, “a social class is defined as a stratum of people of similar position in the status continuum.”

5. According to Karl Marx, “a class is a group of people who stand in a common relationship to the means of production.”

 


 

CASTE AND CLASS COMPARISON

CASTE

CLASS

1. Particular: The system with all its peculiarities is unique to India. It is peculiar to India and hence it is not universal.

1. Universal: The class system is universal in nature. It is found in almost all the modern complex societies.

2. Ascribed Status: Status is ascribed to the individuals by birth. Birth is the criterion of status and not achievement. Status can neither be changed or be improved.

2. Achieved Status: Status is achieved by the individuals. There is scope for achievement. Hence, status can be changed or improved.

3. Closed system: Caste is a closed system. It restricts social mobility; i.e., the movement of people from one social status to that of the other.

3. Open system: Class is an open system. It provides for social mobility. Individuals can move from the lower class to the upper class.

4. Divine Origin: The caste system is believed to have had a divine origin. It is closely associated with Hindu tradition.

4. Secular: The class system is secular. It has nothing to do with religion. It has been given no religious explanation.

5. Purity and Impurity: The idea of purity and impurity is associated with the caste. Some castes are called ‘pure’ while others are regarded as ‘impure’. ‘impure’ castes are regarded as ‘untouchables’.

5. Feeling of Disparity: There is a feeling of disparity on the part of the members of a class. The question of purity and impurity does not arise. Hence there is no practices of untouchability.

6. Regulation of relations: The caste system controls the activities and regulates the relations of its members to a great extent. As Maclver says, it fixes the role of a man in society. It regulates even the routine activities of the members.

6. Limits Relations: The class system, on the other hand, limits the range of contacts and communications of its members. Individuals are freer in a class. It does regulate the daily tasks of its members.

7. Greater Social Distance: There is comparatively a greater distance being kept between different castes.

7. Less Social Distance: There is less social distance between different classes. Members are more tolerant than others.

8. Conservative: The caste ridden system tends to become conservative, orthodox and reactionary Castes become in course of time, water-tight compartments.

8. Progressive: The class-laden system is regarded as more progressive. Classes give more freedom to the members. It permits greater social mobility.

9. Endogamous Group: Caste is an endogamous social unit. Accordingly, every caste member has to marry within the group selecting the life partner from his or her own caste. Inter-caste marriages are not allowed.

9. Not endogamous: A class is not an endogamous unit. The members are free to select his or her life partner from any of the classes. The class system never imposes restrictions on marriage.

10. Complexity: The caste system is a complex system. The very fact that more than 2800 castes and sub-castes are found in India, makes it evident how complex it is.

10. Simplicity: The class system is known for its simplicity. Broadly speaking, there are only three classes - the upper, middle, and the lower - and hence the network of relations is also simple.

11. Caste-consciousness: Caste consciousness is more dangerous to democracy. Democracy and caste strictly speaking, cannot go together, because caste is based on inequality. Caste-feeling may also endanger the growth of national ‘sentiments and unity’. Caste restricts the amount of community feeling. Casteism has been a great hinderance to the national integration in India.

11. Class-consciousness: Class-consciousness is not inimical to democracy. Class and democracy go together. Class on the other hand, does not restrict the amount of community feeling. In spite of the Communist influence to internationalize, the class system never disturbs the growth of national sentiments.


 

CASTE AND CLASS COMPARISON

The Important Distinctions between Class and Caste Stratifications in societies are:

1.  Caste Stratification is inherited and Class Stratification is mostly achieved: Caste is inherited, a child at birth takes the status of his parents and as such the latter attributed of his life cannot change what birth has given to him. Membership of a class does not depend on hereditary factors; rather depends on the worldly achievement of an individual.

2.  Caste Stratification is Static whereas Class Stratification is Dynamic: Membership of caste cannot be left by an individual. Class on the other hand, is a flexible system of social division. The child at birth belongs to the caste to which his or her parents belong. In case of class also, a child belongs to the class of his parents. However, in later life his own attributes which are mostly the results of his worldly achievements determine the status and class of an individual.

He may climb to a higher class, he may slip into a lower one or he may remain stationary in the same class, he may slip into a lower one or he may remain stationary in the same class, in which he was born. Caste, on the other hand, remains unaffected by any of those things.

3.  Caste Stratification is Endogamous whereas Class Stratification is not endogamous: The choice of marriage partners in caste system is strictly endogamous. Members have to marry within their own groups. If an individual marries outside his own group or caste boundaries, he is treated as outcaste.

No such restrictions exist in class system at least in their rigid form. A wealthy person may generally prefer to marry in a wealthy family but he may without being out-casted from the wealthy class can marry with a poor partner.

4.  Caste Stratification is rigid while Class Stratification is Flexible: Caste system of social stratification, in order to preserve its closed characteristic and rigidity placed many secondary restrictions in the conducts of its members.

These restrictions are meant to keep the solidarity of a particular class and at the same time the nature of the restrictions act as distinguishing features of that caste. Free association of different castes is checked. A class does not place restrictions on the conduct of its individual members.

5.  Caste Occupations are Traditional whereas Class Occupations are Optional: The caste, in the past, was generally associated with common traditional mode of occupation and hence the occupational opportunities in caste system are limited. Class allows its members to adopt the occupation of their likings.

6.  Caste is Religious, while Class is Secular: Caste is frequently religious in its sanctions. No religion is basically required for the class system itself. There is no restriction to the choice of any religion by individual members and each member is free to discard the religion at all. While relative prestige of castes is fixed, that of classes is dynamic and mobile relative prestige of the different castes is well established and is jealously guarded. But in caste system despite the feeling superiority and inferiority, there is no intensely relative order of prestige. People of different class may eat, drink and associate with each other.

The above points clearly bring out the difference between class stratification and caste stratification.


 

CASTE AND CLASS COMPARISON

The fundamental points of difference between class and caste are the following –

1. Open vs. closed: Class is more open than caste. Since class is open and elastic social mobility becomes easier. The membership of a class does not depend upon hereditary basis; it rather depends on the worldly achievements of an individual. On the other hand if a man is born in a caste he remains in it for his life-time and makes his children suffer the same fate. A caste is thus a ‘closed’ class. The individual’s status is determined by the caste status of his parents, so that what an individual does has little bearing upon his status.

2. Divine vs. secular: The caste system is believed to have been divinely ordained. The rigid demarcation of caste could scarcely be maintained were it not for strong religious persuasions. The hold of religious belief, with its supernatural explanation of caste itself is essential to the continuance of the caste system. On the contrary, there is nothing sacred or of divine origin in the class stratification of society. Classes are secular in origin. They are not founded on religious dogmas.

3. Traditional vs. Optional: The caste, in the past, was generally associated with common traditional mode of occupation and hence the occupational opportunities in caste system are limited. Class allows its members to adopt the occupation of their likings.

4. Endogamous: The choice of marriage partners in caste system is strictly endogamous. Members have to marry within their own groups. If an individual marries outside his own group or caste boundaries, he is treated as outcaste. No such restrictions exist in class system. A wealthy man may marry a poor girl without being out-casted. An educated girl may marry an uneducated partner without being thrown out from the class of teachers.

5. Class consciousness: The feeling of class consciousness is necessary to constitute a class but there is no need for any subjective consciousness in the members of caste.

6. Prestige: The relative prestige of the different castes is well established but in class system there is no rigid fixed order of prestige.

The above points clearly bring out the difference between class stratification and caste stratification.

 

 

 

 

 


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