Caste System Vs Class System Essayscorer

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Current Category » Rural Sociology and Educational Psychology

Class and Caste and Difference between Class and Cast

A principle difference between class and caste is that class in open for all and social mobility is possible. In the caste system the vertical mobility is not possible. Caste in India has religious background and everybody tries to fulfill the caste duties, but in class system of social stratification religion has place. There the physical and mental qualities are more important.

Caste and Class jointly determine the position of an individual in social strain. Particularly in rural communities where caste system has maintained its rigidity. It forms the basic for economic and special life. In a single village there may be as many as 24 castes and of these are interdependent. Even in the urban society a constant tendency to make caste distinction is observed in the upper and middle classes. Thus the castes have maintained their importance in class system of social stratification.

Difference between Caste and Class:





Membership of a cast is hereditary and no amount or struggle and change it.

A person is placed class by virtue of his acquisition of education, wealth or other achievement.


There is no social mobility.

Social mobility is possible, i.e. it is possible to improve social status


Members are normally not conscious of their social status.

Members are generally conscious of their social status.


Caste system expects members of follow certain customs, folkways, rituals etc.

Social class has no prescribed customs rituals and folkways


Inter-caste marriage is not possible, because it will earn wrath of society

Marriage between two individuals belonging to different classes is possible without earning displeasure of the society


Caste system is based on inferiority or superiority of human beings. Therefore, does not promote democracy.

Social classes are based on superiority or inferiority of social status of an individual. Social classes help in working of democracy.


In caste system the members must follow a particular religion.

Members of social classes may follow any religion


Caste system is a closed class system in which hereditary status is the life time status.

Social classes are open class system in which movement from one class to another is completely unrestricted.


In caste system, there is no occupational mobility, i.e. one has to follow occupation of ancestors and it cannot be changed

As a member of social class one can adopt any occupation and change it at will.


Social gap between members of different castes is too wide.

Social gap is not so wide as in caste system.


Caste system is supported on religious grounds as a manifestation of God’s will.

Social classes have no such religious a support.


Current Category » Rural Sociology and Educational Psychology

Differences between Class and Caste Systems!

In Max Weber’s phraseology, caste and class are both status groups. While castes are perceived as hereditary groups with a fixed ritual status, social classes are defined in terms of the relations of production. A social class is a category of people who have a similar socio-economic status in relation to other classes in the society. The individuals and families which are classified as part of the same social class have similar life chances, prestige, style of life, attitudes etc.

In the caste system, status of a caste is determined not by the economic and the political privileges but by the ritualistic legitimation of authority. In the class system, ritual norms have no importance at all but power and wealth alone determine one’s status (Dumont, 1958).

Class system differs in many respects from other forms of strati­fication—slavery, estate and caste system. In earlier textbooks such as written by Maclver, Davis and Bottomore, it was observed that caste and class are polar opposites. They are antithetical to each other. While ‘class’ represents a ‘democratic society’ having equality of opportunity, ‘caste’ is obverse of it.

Following are the main differ­ences between class and caste systems:

1. Castes are found in Indian sub-continent only, especially in India, while classes are found almost everywhere. Classes are especially the characteristic of industrial societies of Europe and America. According to Dumont and Leach, caste is a unique phenomenon found only in India.

2. Classes depend mainly on economic differences between groupings of individuals—inequalities in possession and control of material resources—whereas in caste system non-economic factors such as influence of religion [theory of karma, rebirth and ritual (purity-pollution)] are most important.

3. Unlike castes or other types of strata, classes are not established by legal or religious provisions; membership is not based on inherited position as specified either legally or by custom. On the other hand, the membership is inherited in the caste system.

4. Class system is typically more fluid than the caste system or the other types of stratification and the boundaries between classes are never clear-cut. Caste system is static whereas the class system is dynamic.

5. In the class system, there are no formal restrictions on inter-dining and inter-marriage between people from different classes as is found in the caste system. Endogamy is the essence of caste system which is perpetuating it.

6. Social classes are based on the principle of achievement, i.e., on one’s own efforts, not simply given at birth as is common in the caste system and other types of stratification system. As such social mobility (movement upwards and downwards) is much more common in the class structure than in the caste system or in other types. In the caste system, individual mobility from one caste to another is impossible.

This is why, castes are known as closed classes (D.N. Majumdar). It is a closed system of stratifi­cation in which almost all sons end up in precisely the same stratum their fathers occupied. The system of stratification in which there is high rate of upward mobility, such as that in the Britain and United States is known as open class system. The view that castes are closed classes is not accepted by M.N. Srinivas (1962) and Andre Beteille (1965).

7. In the caste system and in other types of stratification system, inequalities are expressed primarily in personal relation­ships of duty or obligation—between lower- and higher-caste individuals, between serf and lord, between slave and master. On the other hand, the nature of class system is impersonal. Class system operates mainly through large-scale connections of an impersonal kind.

8. Caste system is characterised by ‘cumulative inequality’ but class system is characterised by ‘dispersed inequality.’

9. Caste system is an organic system but class has a segmentary character where various segments are motivated by competition (Leach, 1960).

10. Caste works as an active political force in a village (Beteille, 1966) but class does not work so.

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