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Class System

The class system is a system of stratification of society on the basis of education, property, business/work etc. Sociology as a subject deals with the Class System and provides definitions and understanding of teh subject of class in society.

Karl Max - 'Man is a class animal' i.e. his status age, education etc are not same in the society.

Common Basis For Division Of Class

  • Property – capitalist & the poor – the haves & the have nots.
  • Education - Illiterate & literate
  • Business or Occupation - farmers, clerk officers, industrialists etc.

In general, class consciousness is a must in the class system. There must be the we feeling. The charade of in group given by Summer is found in the class system – I belong? Identifying oneself in a particular group or family is the key. The behavior of a person is fixed due to their class consciousness. Trade union is a result of class consciousness. These is feeling of superiority & inferiority in class syst. The higher has the feeling superiority & the lower class feels inferior. In these classes too there is sub classes as Upper Open class, middle upper class, lower upper class; lower middle class, middle class; upper lower class, middle lower class, to lower2 class. Class system is open in character. Because it is based on a variety of things like age, sex etc. Also one can change one's less easily. The people of lower class may enter the upper class & those of the upper class may become members of the lower class.

Definition Of Class System

Following are some of the class system definitions as per sociologists.

P.Gisbert - "A social class is a category or group of persons having a definite status in society which permanently determines their relation to other group – feeling of superiority & inferiorities. The relative position of the class in the social scale arises from the degree of prestige attached to the status.

Mac Iver & Page - "A social class is any portion of community marked off the from the rest by social status 'Ongburn & Nimk off. A social class is the aggregate of persons having essentially the same social status in a given society." i.e. a class consciousness.

Max weber – held that "classes are aggregate of individuals who have the same opportunities of acquiring goods. The same exhibited standard of lining.

Hoebal defines "A social class is a group within a society, whose members hold a no. of distinctive status in common & who trough the operation of roles associated with these status, develop are awareness of the life interest as against the unlike trait & interest of other groups."

In general "A social class consists of group of individuals who are ranked by the members of the community in socially superior inferior position."

Characteristics of Class System:

  1. Class system is based on occupation, wealth, education, age and sex.
  2. Hierarchy of status group. In general there are 3 class – upper middle & tower. Status, prestige & role is attached. Upper class are less in no in comparison to the other two whereas their status & prestige is most. This is like a pyramid. Karl max (Rich & poor) preliterate &
  3. Feeling of superiority & inferiority. In these 3 classes there are such feelings the upper class people feel they are superior to the other two whereas the lower class feels it is inferior to the upper class.
  4. Class consciousness – wherever a class is formed this feeling a consciousness is a must. There should be feeling of in group i.e. I belong class conflict is due to this the people of the preliterate class feel the upper class exploits them their they unite revolt. The behavior action is determined by this class consciousness.
  5. Sub-classes, class is divided into different groups. Similar to caste system, the class system is divided.
  6. Class system is an open system.
  7. There's social restriction in this too. In general there is endogamy in a class. To maintain their status & position they mix among themselves & it is seldom that marriage between upper & lower class is wished. Distinction between Caste & class. They are the two phenomena of social stratification (Stratification is division of society on the basis of birth).

Difference between Class and Caste system





Based on birth

Birth, education, wealth etc.


In general there are 3000 castes & sub-castes in India.

Whereas class has subclasses (based on different things)


Caste is a closed group

Whereas Class is an open system


Even Sanskritisation is unable to change caste

Whereas class can be changed quiet easily.


Caste is hereditary



Caste is a closed class. A child of Brahmin will always be a Brahmin.

But there is no such thing in class.


Status is inborn and ascribed in Caste System.

Whereas in class system, it is acquired & achieved.

Questions asked on the Class System

  • Define class system. Discuss its character.
  • Distinguish between Caste & class.
  • Caste & class there are the 2 phenomena of social stratification. How?
  • Caste is a closed class. Discuss.