Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Social stratification refers to the positions held by individuals and groups in the structures of inequality existing in a society. Specifically, it denotes the classification of individuals and groups into different categories on the basis of the amount of one or more privileges enjoyed by the members of each category and/or the intensity of power that they are able to exert over other people. In contemporary advanced societies, based on democratic political regimes and market economies, these categories are usually referred to as strata or classes, depending on the criteria chosen to identify them. Strata and classes are groups based on factual inequalities—that is, disparities produced by the workings of societies with legal systems stipulating the equality of all citizens before the law. Hence, strata and classes are open groups that individuals can enter or leave according to the acquisition or the loss, during their lives, of the characteristics defining ...