Estates and Class

Caste System
• In a Caste System, status is determined by birth and
it stays with you for the rest of your life. (Ascribed
• Any type of achievement can’t push an individual to
a higher status
• No mixing of the different social classes
• Endogamy (marriages within their own social class)
India’s Caste System
• During the middle ages, Europe established
the estate stratification system
• Consisted of 3 Estates
1. First Estate made up of nobility and wealth
and they ruled the country
– Work seen beneath their dignity, work done by
– Administer the lands & to live genteel lives
worthy of their high position
2. Second Estate consisted of clergy (Roman
Catholic Church)
– Major political power of the time
– For kings to be crowned, kings had to obtain
permission from the pope
– Primogeniture which allowed only firstborn sons
to inherit land (prevented lands from being
carved up into smaller pieces)
3. The Third Estate was the commoners (known
as serfs)
– Serfs were part of the land, if a noble owned the
land he also owned the serfs
– Very rare for a serf to get out of the third estate
– If someone made it out of the 3rd estate, he was
either knighted for bravery in battle or “called”
into a religious vocation
• Class System is much more open, it is based
on money or material possessions which can
be acquired.
• Begins at birth when individuals are ascribed
to a status based on their parents
• Unlike other systems, people can change
classes based on what they achieve
• Allows social mobility (movement up or down
the social ladder)
• There are no societies that gender is the sole basis
for stratifying people
• Although in all of the systems, based on gender,
people are sorted into categories and given
different access to the good things in society
• Generally favor males
• Men earn higher wages
• Women have a higher percentage of being illiterate