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Class System Has Taken over Class System sample essay


Unity as well as diversity decorates the Indian Social Structure and cultural patterns. Rich cultural heritage of India presents an amalgamation of the imminent Aryans, the native Dravidians and a variety of invading groups. India’s social, cultural, economic diversities are reflected in habitat conditions in rural, urban and sub-urban locations. Along with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, other sects also have their centers of pilgrimage in India the practice of caste system cut across religious boundaries and provide then a common social identity.

Mark Twain has once quoted “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” Individuals and societies differ everywhere.

Differentiation is the central feature of human society. No two individuals are similar. Diversity and inequality are inherent in society. Hence human society is stratified everywhere. All societies arrange their members with respect to superiority, interiority and equality the placement of individual in the strata or layers which is known as stratification. People on the top of the stratum have more powers, prestige and privileges in comparison with those who are placed lower therein. Social stratification is Omni-present. Every society is devised into more or less distinct groups.

Sorokin points out that unstratified society with real equality of members is a myth which has never been realized in the history of mankind. According to Sorokin, social stratification means the differentiation of a given population into hierarchically superimposed classes. It is manifested in the existence of the upper and lower social layer. Its basis and very essence consists in an unequal distribution of rights and privileges, duties and responsibilities, social values and privations, social power and influences among the members of the society.

Caste System

The word caste is taken from the Spanish word “casta”. The English word “caste” is a variant from the original word. The Sanskrit word for caste is Varna which means color. The caste system is unique to the Indian society. It seeks its origin in the “Chaturvarna” system, according to which society was divided into four main Varnas namely , the Brahmins, the Kshatriya, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. The Varna system was mainly based on the division of labor and occupation. The present caste system may be degenerated from the earlier Varna model.

However, Varnas and castes are not one and same thing. Sir Aurobindo once quoted “Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions of society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which the distribution was based in India was peculiar to this country.” In the 3rd century BC the Greek traveller Megasthenes highlighted two elements of caste system, namely, (1) there is no intermarriage and (2) there can be no change of profession.

Characteristics of caste system

* Segmented Division of Society
* Social and Religious Hierarchy
* Restrictions on Food Habits and Social Relations.
* Endogamy.
* Restricted choice of occupation.
* Civil and Religious Disabilities.

Merits and demerits of caste system of India


* Social Security: Caste provides every individual a fixed social environment. It acts as a permanent boy of associations which controls almost all his behavior and contracts. * Spirit of cooperation: caste develops a spirit of cooperation and we-feeling among the members. * Economic goals: caste sets economic goals of individual. Every caste is associated with an occupation and this ensures the future of new members of the caste and develops a sense of pride for caste occupation as change of occupation is not thought of commonly

* Purity of race: caste has preserved the racial purity of higher castes of endogamy. * Separation of social life from political: caste has successfully maintained the independence of social life from the political life. A Hindu’s intimate life is independent of the political conditions it has its own religious system and own caste gods whereby functions as a great church.


* Labour mobility denied : Denied of labour mobility leads to stagnation as one has to follow the case occupation. * Untouchability : It develops untouchability whereby major section of society is no better than slaves. Is has created other social evils like child marriage dowry system, veil system and casteism. * Solidarity retarded: the practice of social segregation between classes and righid prohibition of social intercourse together retarded the growth of solidarity and brotherhood in the Hindu society. It resulted in disintegration of Hindu society and finally weakened it.

* Talent denied in selection: under caste system occupation in hereditary when son assumes the place of father is due course of time. But many a times it denies the choice, talent, skills of an individual in the matters of job selection * Promotes Casteism: the caste exhibit blind faith to their caste and deny healthy social standards of justice equality and sense of brotherhood. * Non-democratic: it is undemocratic because it does not favor equality between different castes, creed and color.


Caste and class are sometimes confused as one but in fact they are vitally different from one another. Class system is the feature of an industrially developed society. It is based on individual achievements and economic status. In the modern industrial society, the class of an individual is determined in accordance to his economic status. Each class occupies definite social states in the society.

Characteristics of class system:

In a system based on class or social class, people of the society are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories. They are as follows: * Upper class: Upper class consists of the people who are either very wealthy or politically strong or both. They have considered to me economically and financially strong and have access to most of the material benefits.

* Middle class: This class which lies below the upper class and above the working class or lowed class. They are financially stable and secure but not as wealthy as the upper class. Aristotle once said,” The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes” * Lower Class: They are considered to consist of people who are paid less or have low wages jobs. They are financially weak and often under-employed or unemployed.

Difference between caste system and class system:

1. Membership of a particular caste based on birth. It has no relevance to objective facts whereas in class system, membership, states and role are based on achievements and ability. 2. In a caste structured society, the social distinctions are based on birth where as in class structured society, stratification is based on economic level. The class of an individual is determined by the amount of wealth he is having. 3. Caste system is rigid whereas class system is open and a person can move from one class to another. 4. In the caste system most of the occupation is traditional. The traditional continuity of occupations generally remains undisturbed where as in class system, type of occupation is not traditional. A person has an option of switching from one class to another.

5. In a caste system there are prefixed rules and regulations regarding marriage, education, eating and drinking habits etc. whereas the class system is not guided by prefixed rules and regulations. There is enormous freedom of choice. 6. In the caste system upward mobility is not possible whereas in class system upward mobility is possible. In the caste system, there is greater social distance between different castes. Members of a particular caste cannot have full freedom of social intercourse with members of others whereas in the caste system, there is greater economic distance than social distance. It means that members of different classes differ from one another so far as their economic condition is concerned.

Social change

An absolute class or caste system is a myth. Social change is a natural phenomenon. Social change is followed by social society is immobile. No society absolutely forbids social mobility. Every society allows some scope for personal ambitions in the absence of which there would have been no progress.

Factors that led to social change are as follows :

* Westernization: The concept of ‘westernization’ refers to changes in the Indian society and culture as a result of impact of western society this process had its beginning during the British rule and has been strengthened after India got independence. During the 19th century the British laid s the foundations of a modern states by surveying land, creating a modern bureaucracy, army and police, instituting law courts, developing communications system etc. the print technology helped the transmission of modern as well as traditional knowledge to every corner of the sub-continent

* Industrialization: it refers to the growth in a society which has been mostly agrarian till now, of modern industry with all its attendant circumstances and problems namely, social and economic. The process of industrialization has affected the nature, character and growth of economy. It has contributed to the growth of cities or urbanization. As a result of industrialization people have started moving towards the industrial centers in search of employment. * Science and technology: the gregarious nature and creative urge of human being motivated human beings to build civilization to satisfy their needs and make life more comfortable. Technology is the product of civilization.

* Education: modern education has altered our attitudes, outlook, beliefs, customs, traditions, manners and morals and cultural attitude. Higher education has brought about more refined has raised the status of women in the society too. * Social legislation: legislations brought about changes in some areas of social like and contemporary norms and values. The social legislation in India before and after independence shows the efforts of the state and the society to bring legal norms in line with the existing social norms and also to improve the social norms on the basis of legal norms.

Once, Cesar Chavez said, “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

Personal Analysis:

Over the years, our society has undergone tremendous change. Caste system which was seen very rigid does not look the same anymore. Class has certainly taken over caste to a major extent in the contemporary India. Major contributing factor of this has been industrialization, westernization, education, science and technology etc. These in turn given rise to individualism which eventually resulted in the growth of class system.

Today, instead of judging people by their caste we judge them by their style, by the amount of wealth they are having. We tend to have more respect for people with deeper pockets. Caste system is still prevalent in rural areas and some part of urban areas too but because of government measures(e.g. reservation policy) to uplift people of lower caste and other reasons which have been discussed above, it is fast declining . Class system is has taken over its place in contemporary India.


* An Introduction to Sociology by Navendu K. Thakur


[ 1 ]. American author and humorist(November 30,1835- April 21,1910) [ 2 ]. Breed, race and a host of hereditary quality
[ 3 ]. Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, yogi, philosopher, guru and poet(15 August 1872- 5 December 1950) [ 4 ]. Greek philosopher and a polymath (384 BC-322 BC)
[ 5 ]. American farm leader, labor leader and civil rights activists (March 31,1937- April 22,1933)

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