Social stratification is a system in which groups of people are divided into layers according to their relative power , property , and prestige .

It is important to stress that social stratification does not refer to individuals. It is a way of ranking large groups of people into a hierarchy according to their relative privileges.

Again , it should be noted that every society stratifies her members . Some societies have greater inequalities than others , but social stratification is universal.

In addition , in every society of the world , gender is a basis for stratifying people. On the basis of gender there is a ceiling for social mobility.

A class system is much more open for it is based primarily on money or material possession. It , too , begins at birth where individuals are ascribed the status of their parents, but unlike in the slavery and caste systems , one social class changes due to what one achieves ( or fails to achieve) in life .

A major characteristics of the class system then , is its relatively fluidity boundaries. A class system allows for social mobility, that is movement up and down the class ladder.

The potential for improving one’s social circumstances , or class , is one of the major forces that drives people to go far in school and to work hard . In the extreme , the family background that an individual inherits at birth may bring such deprivation that the child has little change of climbing very far – or it may provide such privilege that it is almost impossible for the individual to fall down the social class ladder.