A sociological concept defined as institutionalized inequalities in power, wealth, and prestige between classes of people within a social organization.
Some types of stratification:

Caste Based
People are born into a social stratum and can't leave it. There is no social mobility within this system, you can't leave your caste(Unless you die with good karma, then you come back in a higher caste).

Class Based
Basically what the US has. Since achieved status is considered as well as ascribed status, it is possible to change your social class, but usually your new class will be withing a few social levels of your parents'.

Let's talk about these two systems for a second. Achieved status is what you achieve: how well you do in school, what college you go to, and things that you have control over. Ascribed status on the other hand, refers to things that have been ascribed to you: your sex, physical appearance, ethnicity, the social class you were born into, etc. So in a strict caste system, the social stratification is much more permanent because no matter how smart you get or how much wealth you hoard away, you cannot throw away the caste acsribed to you at birth. In a class system however, your ascribed statuses mark your starting point and it's possible to achieve a class that was not ascribed to you(of course, you could also slide further down the social ladder).

Conflict theorists see the major stratification as that between the working class and the capitalists. This is probably the clearest and simplest example of social class.

You can see the social stratification in the US if you take a look at the distribution of wealth. The richest 5 percent of Americans have more wealth than the other 95 percent. These would be the elite capitalists, the CEOs of major companies. Try as you may to reach for the American dream, you are almost guaranteed to not move from the lowest social class to become part of this top 5 percent. Thus it qualifies as social stratification because the barriers are institutionalized, as opposed to being based solely on merit.

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