Social stratification, otherwise known as the caste system, is thought to be a practice of the past in most areas of the world. But in all reality, has this practice been put to rest? Per Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, caste can be defined as: “a division of society based on differences of wealth, inherited rank or privilege, profession, occupation, or race”. That being said, a lot of information regarding culture in any area can be seen through the eyes of different social classes.
The caste system has been a part of humanity since almost the beginning of civilization in different forms. Because it is one of the oldest known practices, a person’s status, or rank, can be seen in historical artifacts. One of the most important artifacts would have to be dress. Dress can show how wealthy a person was, what kind of career that person had, where they lived, religious practices, the period someone lived in, and much more. One of the biggest topics historic dress shows is the social status of an individual.
Traveling to a third world country like India will give you a wide variety of social status. Per Nicholas Dirks, India is known for its caste system when dealing with a political force that collaborates government and religion. Although this country has tried to reverse its harsh system, residents of this country still feel the effects today. A good representation of India’s caste system is given in this image along with the clothing that someone of this cast would wear. Modern India has come a long way from these strict social statuses by reserving government positions for people who come from Dalits ancestry. Although this has helped, a lot of India’s residents are stuck into a work/wealth path that they were born in.
This type of system helped to mold dress attributes in India, and for a third world country, it has kept similar qualities with the traditional way of life. Doing research on this topic gives information on dress as well as an inside look into Indian culture. Mannerisms, lifestyle, personality, and other attributes are all affected by this system that controlled a person no matter who they were. When diving into a culture like this, it is important to understand this way of life.
Dalits and the Caste System. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://www.gfa.org/dalit/the-caste-system/
Dirks, N. B. (2001). Castes of mind: colonialism and the making of modern India. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://site.ebrary.com.pearl.stkate.edu/lib/stkate/reader.action?docID=10578580&ppg=15
Johnson, L. A., (July, 2013). Social stratification
The Merriam-Webster dictionary. (2004). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster
Indian caste system in varna chart with indicating dress for each category. http://awhistorysprayregen.wikispaces.com/Brahmin+Block+3