Key Difference – Caste System vs Class System
Although caste system and class system are still prevalent in countries, there is a clear difference between the two systems. Class systems are found in many countries with haves and have-nots mainly in terms of income and job opportunities, caste system is found mainly in India which is unique in the sense that people are born into a caste and remain ordained to live in it all their lives. With India gaining independence and job opportunities increasing for those belonging to lower castes through a system of reservation, the caste system has somewhat diluted. But even today, the caste system has a stronghold and the rules of this system apply on all the members of the caste. Through this article let us examine the differences between the two systems.
What is Caste System?
The caste system is a system in which people are born to different castes and have to live in it all their lives. One unique feature of the caste system, as prevalent in India, is that one has a pre-destined life. If you belong to a scheduled caste, and happen to live in a village instead of a metro, you are almost untouchable and are condemned to move only in your own caste as you will not be allowed to have any truck with people belonging to higher castes. You cannot marry a person of higher caste, and you die belonging to the caste you were born into.
What is a Class System?
The class system refers to a system of stratification where individuals in society are divided into various classes based on different factors such as the economy, profession, etc. In most societies, there are three main classes. They are the upper class, middle class, and the lower class.
The class system is also in place in many parts in India where those who have either land or property, or money have been asserting their supremacy over those who are poor and deprived of such assets. However, this system is a bit more humane than the rigid caste system as a person can hope to move up the ladder of hierarchy by improving his earnings. Once he is perceived as rich by others, he becomes acceptable to those belonging to higher classes. Thus in a class system, it is possible to improve once social status either through education or by being able to amass wealth.
In fact, this is what is happening in many places in India. As described above, because of the policy of reservation, many lower caste persons got good jobs in government sectors as well as private sectors and are today living a comfortable life. They are now not only acceptable to upper castes (some are even bosses to lots of people belonging to higher castes); they have easily slipped into a higher class also.
In conclusion, it would be fair to say that though caste system is still firmly rooted in India, it is getting diluted by the day and a more humane class system is taking roots in its place that provides more chances to a person to move up in the society depending upon his skills and income-earning abilities.
What is the Difference Between Caste System and Class System?
Definition of Caste System and Class System:
Caste System: Caste system is a system in which people are born to different castes and have to live in it all their lives.
Class System: Class system refers to a system of stratification where individuals in society are divided into various classes based on different factors such as the economy, profession, etc.
Characteristics of Caste System and Class System:
Caste System: Caste system breeds inequality more than class system
Class System: the Class system also breeds inequality.
Caste System: Caste system is rigid and you remain in a caste you are born all your life.
Class System: One can hope to progress to a higher class through hard work and by amassing wealth.
Caste System: Caste system is slowly getting diluted.
Class System: the Class system is gaining importance.
1. Caste System By Saylor Foundation [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. “Anti-capitalism color” by IWW – . [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons