Present essay investigates the literature on social stratification. It elucidates the manner in which the open and closed stratifications differ from one another. According to literature available, social stratification implies that social hierarchies that exist in terms of economic productions and how the society regards persons on various levels of economic production. Basically, there are different forms of social strata that have existed in the world before. For instance, there was primitive communalism, in which people lived together and shared almost everything they had. This form of stratification ensured minimal social inequality as it basically put people in equal social position. In addition, there was the estate system whereby peasants were naturally assigned by nature as the workers in the farms owned working class. However, it was to ensure that guards employed by the working class provided security for them as well. Moreover, the caste form had people permanently assigned to a social class on the basis of what his or her parents owned. There was minimal possibility to transit from one social stratum to another (Li 115).
According to the literature, open social stratification accords people the opportunity to cross from one social stratum to another. It essentially exercises the equality that an ideal society needs in terms of acquisition and utilization of economic resources. On the other hand, closed social strata restrict people’s acquisition and utilization of resources. Basically, it ensures that people remain in one social position for most parts of their lives by limiting their access to the resources. According to Max Webber, this system essentially creates rigid social classes that define how people relate in the society. However, closed social stratification has been attributed to the social inequalities that exist in the world even today. Especially good and vivid example of closed stratification would be societies where slavery is practiced. Thus, black people, who were slaves, were assigned social workers and were denied access to certain social privileges (Duara 119).
The Northern and the Southern dynasties have always imposed a closed social stratification in China. Indeed, it has greatly polarized the country so that southerners and northerners constantly refer to one another as barbarians, despite the fact that they belong to the same country. A typical case is that of the the Mongol Yuan Dynasty that placed the Han Chinese of the south in the poorest stratum while the Han Chinese of the north inasmuch higher social stratum. The pattern also characterized the lives of traditional Yi society, where the white Yi enjoyed certain social privileges while the black Yi were confined to slavery and service. To this date, nothing much has changed in China as school enrollments are done along these social lines. For instance, my cousin who is half black Yi-half white Yi was denied registration in a prestigious college due to this stratification. Indeed, it pains a lot to be denied services based on realities that are not people’s choices (Duara 92).
Closed systems ignore the fundamental idea of cultural relativism, which insists that people should be viewed in accordance with the social positions and the societies in which they live. Thus, it is a social obligation that everyone appreciates and accepts others of different culture as equally human, as it is the golden way to ensure social equality. For instance, the idea of skewed enrollments in China does more social harm than good to our society. It is due to the fact that it generates unnecessary ethnic tensions and creates a sense of desperation in people. It is reminiscent of the former American system that always alienated the blacks and other minority groups. Although the larger Chinese culture has had not much problem with a closed system, some change of heart is beginning to emerge (Li 45).
In conclusion, the world has slowly undergone a transition from the rigid closed social structures to more open ones. Although this has not been completely realized, the society is fast changing and the world could finally have open systems in all societies.