Interrelationship between Social Stratification Social Mobility and Education – Best B.Ed Notes

In this article we will discuss about the Interrelationship between Social Stratification Social Mobility and Education. you can write this as a Long Question’s Answer.


Social stratification social mobility and education are three interconnected concepts that play a pivotal role in shaping the structure of societies.

  • Social stratification refers to the hierarchical arrangement of individuals or groups within a society based on various factors such as wealth, power, status, and access to resources. 
  • Social mobility, on the other hand, relates to the ability of individuals or groups to move up or down this social hierarchy over time.
  • Education, as a key social institution, significantly influences both social stratification and social mobility.

Below we will explore the intricate interrelationship between these three concepts, shedding light on how education acts as a catalyst for social mobility and as a tool for maintaining or challenging social stratification.

Social Stratification – Definition

Social stratification is a fundamental aspect of human societies, dating back to ancient civilizations. It is a system of categorizing and ranking individuals or groups based on their socio-economic status, power, and prestige. In essence, it creates distinct layers or strata within society, each with its own privileges and disadvantages. Various factors contribute to social stratification, including wealth, income, occupation, education, race, ethnicity, gender, and more.

One of the primary mechanisms of social stratification is economic inequality. In capitalist societies, wealth and income disparities are significant drivers of social stratification. Those who control substantial economic resources tend to occupy higher positions in the social hierarchy, while those with limited resources find themselves lower down the ladder. This often leads to the concentration of power and privilege among a select few, perpetuating social inequality.

Social Mobility – Definition

Social mobility refers to the movement of individuals or groups within the social hierarchy. It can occur both upward and downward, and it is often influenced by various factors, including education, economic opportunities, family background, and societal norms. Upward mobility involves individuals moving to a higher socio-economic status, while downward mobility entails a decline in social standing.

The concept of social mobility is essential for understanding how societies evolve and change over time. It reflects the degree of openness and fairness within a society. In a highly stratified society with limited social mobility, individuals born into disadvantaged circumstances often find it difficult to improve their lives. Conversely, in a society with high social mobility, individuals have greater opportunities to rise above their initial socio-economic status through their efforts and abilities.

Education and its Role in Social Stratification

Education plays a pivotal role in both reinforcing and challenging social stratification. The quality and accessibility of education are key factors that determine an individual’s socio-economic prospects. Let’s explore how education contributes to social stratification:

Access to Quality Education: In many societies, access to quality education is not equitable. Disparities in educational resources, such as well-funded schools, highly trained teachers, and modern learning materials, can perpetuate social stratification. Children from affluent families often have better access to these resources, giving them a significant advantage in their educational journey.

Credentialism: Educational qualifications and credentials are often used as markers of an individual’s social status. Higher degrees, prestigious universities, and academic achievements are seen as indicators of intelligence and competence. As a result, those with access to quality education and the means to pursue advanced degrees are more likely to secure high-paying, prestigious jobs, further consolidating their social standing.

Socialization and Cultural Capital: Education is not just about academic knowledge; it also imparts cultural capital, which includes norms, values, and social skills. Students from more privileged backgrounds tend to acquire cultural capital that aligns with the dominant culture, making it easier for them to navigate social and professional spheres. This can be a significant advantage in terms of social stratification.

Tracking and Streaming: Some education systems track or stream students based on their perceived abilities or aptitudes. While intended to provide tailored education, this practice can inadvertently reinforce social stratification. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may be disproportionately placed in lower tracks, limiting their access to advanced courses and opportunities.

Discrimination and Bias: Educational institutions are not immune to biases and discrimination. Discriminatory practices can disproportionately affect marginalized groups, limiting their educational attainment and perpetuating social inequality.

Education and its Role in Social Mobility:

While education can contribute to social stratification, it also serves as a powerful tool for social mobility. Here’s how education can act as a catalyst for upward social mobility:

Equalizing Opportunity: In theory, education provides an equalizing opportunity for individuals to improve their socio-economic status. Regardless of their background, individuals can access education and acquire skills and knowledge that can enhance their employability and earning potential.

Meritocracy: The concept of meritocracy suggests that individuals should be rewarded based on their abilities and efforts rather than their social background. Education plays a key role in realizing the ideal of meritocracy by providing a platform for individuals to demonstrate their skills and talents.

Occupational Mobility: Education often determines an individual’s eligibility for specific occupations. Higher levels of education are generally associated with access to more prestigious and well-paying jobs. Therefore, pursuing education beyond the basic level can open doors to a wider range of career opportunities.

Social Networks: Educational institutions also serve as platforms for building social networks. Networking can be crucial in securing job opportunities, and educational institutions often connect individuals with peers, mentors, and professionals who can provide guidance and support in their career aspirations.

Cultural Capital Acquisition: Education can help individuals acquire the cultural capital necessary to succeed in different social and professional contexts. This includes communication skills, critical thinking abilities, and knowledge of societal norms.

Breaking the Cycle: For individuals born into disadvantaged circumstances, education can be a pathway to break the cycle of poverty and social disadvantage. It offers the possibility of achieving a higher socio-economic status than one’s parents.

Interrelationship between social stratification social mobility and education

The interrelationship between social stratification, social mobility and education refers to how people’s positions in society (social stratification) are influenced by their access to education. Education can either help individuals move up in society (social mobility) or keep them in their current social position, depending on the quality of education they receive and their opportunities for advancement. In essence, education plays a crucial role in determining whether individuals can break free from or continue existing social hierarchies.

Social Stratification Social Mobility and Education
Social Stratification Social Mobility and Education

Example 1 : 

Consider a family where the parents have low-income jobs due to limited educational opportunities. They live in a small town with underfunded schools, which in turn, hinders their children’s access to quality education. As a result, these children face difficulties in achieving higher academic qualifications and accessing better job opportunities. This continues the family’s low social status across generations, highlighting the interrelationship between social stratification, limited social mobility, and the role of education as a key determinant in breaking these cycles of inequality.

Example 2 : 

Imagine two friends, Suresh and Ramesh, who grew up in the same neighborhood. Suresh’s family had access to a good education, and he worked hard in school. He eventually went to college and got a well-paying job. Ramesh’s family, on the other hand, couldn’t afford a good education, and he had to take low-paying jobs. Their different education opportunities led to contrasting social mobility. Suresh moved up in society, while Ramesh struggled to improve his social status. This illustrates how education can impact social mobility and how social stratification can result from differing educational opportunities.


In conclusion, the interrelationship between social stratification, social mobility and education is complex and multifaceted. While social stratification can be reinforced by unequal access to education and discriminatory practices within educational systems, education also serves as a critical means of upward social mobility. It has the potential to empower individuals to transcend their social backgrounds, acquire valuable skills, and access better opportunities.

However, it is essential to recognize that the role of education in promoting social mobility is not guaranteed, and barriers to mobility still exist in many societies. Efforts to enhance educational equity, reduce disparities in access to quality education, and combat discrimination within educational systems are crucial for creating more inclusive and meritocratic societies.

Ultimately, the relationship between social stratification, social mobility, and education highlights the importance of education as a powerful tool for both maintaining and challenging the existing social order. By addressing inequalities in education and fostering a more equitable and accessible educational system, societies can strive toward greater social mobility and a fairer distribution of opportunities and resources.

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