Stratification describes the differential arrangement of persons or positions within a society. The term can also be used to refer to the hierarchical ordering of societies or other macrolevel entities.

Many of the founding fathers of sociology were interested in issues of stratification. Karl Marx was most interested in economic stratification and how it spelled itself out in the capitalist system. He saw two broad layers (although an argument can be made that he actually saw more) in society—capitalists at the top and proletariat at the bottom. His means for determining the social strata were purely economic and based on the ownership of the means of production.

Max Weber took Marx's theory of stratification one step further to also include dimensions of status and power as well ...

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