Class V Caste System

.. y is possible in the class system. Upward mobility is somewhat higher in the United States than most other countries. The fourth characteristic, that occupation is strongly related to caste, also describes American society to a substantial degree. Law does not dictate occupations that can be held by blacks or whites. Throughout the nineteenth century, many African Americans did not hold high status jobs such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

Nearly all African Americans were slaves during this time. By now, there has been substantial occupational mobility for African Americans, just as there has been for lower-caste persons in India in the late twentieth century. But the occupational distribution in the United States retains significant caste-like properties. “For example, in 1995 African Americans comprised 10.6 percent of the employed civilian labor force, but they were only 1.9 percent of the dentists, 1.5 percent of the aerospace engineers, and 2.5 percent of the architects. At the same time African Americans made up 30.4 percent of the nursing aides and orderlies, 20.1 percent of the janitors, and 20 percent of the textile machine operators” (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996).

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Though race does not determine occupation, it is clear that African Americans are substantially over represented in low status service and manufacturing jobs and underrepresented in highly paid, high-status professional jobs – just as the caste model predicts. The southern United States before the civil rights movement clearly operated under a caste-like system based on race. African Americans rode on the back of the bus, drank from “colored” water fountains, and used “colored” restrooms. The racial caste system in the United States today may be less rigid than this, but nonetheless it has yet to completely disappear. Both systems, the class system and the caste system, are models of social hierarchies.

In India, the second place in the caste system was allotted to craftsmen and merchants, and this signifies an elevation that took in society due to the development of trade industry. Likewise, the United States developed what is now known as the middle-working class, also due to the development of modern trade industry (Vanina 35-36). Both systems are affected by life chances, the likelihood that individuals and groups will enjoy desired goods and services, fulfilling experiences, and opportunities for living healthy and long lives. Life chances have to do with people’s level of living and their options for choice. The members of the higher classes, in both types of societies, benefit in nonmaterial ways.

Their children are more likely to go further in school and perform better than the children of parents who occupy lower socioeconomic positions. Class and caste systems also affect health and life expectancy. The infants of parents of the higher classes, in both systems, are more likely to survive than infants of parents of the lower classes. Among the elderly, the average life expectancy is greater for the nonpoor than for the poor, in both types of cultural. The class system of the United States and the caste system of India differ also. Certainly the number of differentiated occupations in India is less than in our own contemporary society.

The class system of the United States contains many occupations accompanied by many roles. “A great distance separates the feudal system from the caste system proper. First of all to the extent that the former followed the principle that ‘the status of the land determines that of the landholder’, it contradicts a principle of the caste system” (Pocock 12). Moreover, American society has a much greater degree of opportunity towards upward mobility in society. The Indian culture restricts people on the basis of a culture that was developed hundreds of years ago. Based solely on heritage and lineage, their culture is unlike the United States.

It does not consider the social problems and the psychological problems nearly as much when considering what has brought about such a distinction between the groups. The twenty-first century will surely be one of continuing social, economic, and political turmoil and challenge, at least in its early decades. The heart of the problem is one of gaining equality for the groups of those who are oppressed and discriminated against. These issues should not just be economic ones but should be ones of dignity and honor. The United States has developed an economic theory appropriate to a world economy in which knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant, if not the only, source of comparative advantage.

Therefore it is imperative for the U.S. to continue to place an increasing importance on the education of Americans. Clark D. Cunningham, an expert on the legal system in India, has closely followed the country’s creation of the affirmative action program. Says Cunningham, “One country which offers striking comparisons and contrasts with American affirmative action is India, which actually developed a basis for assessing the relative need for affirmative action among various disadvantaged ethnic groups in its population.” The United States has no principled basis for deciding which groups really need preferential treatment and which do not. However, India did just that when it commissioned a study in 1979 that attempted to measure the extent of prejudice and degree of societal injury suffered by different groups, ranging from the untouchables and tribal groups to low-caste Hindus and religious minorities (Vanina 147).

India’s bold experiments should challenge us to conduct more scientific and systematic studies of how past and present discrimination disadvantage various groups in the U.S. But there is also society’s need for these organizations to take social responsibility – to work on the problems and challenges of the community. Foreign investors can eliminate slave labor and the Indian caste system. Any foreign companies investing in India should check carefully that the Indian companies they do business with are not profiting directly, or indirectly, from slavery; for instance, through the raw materials they buy. Slaves could be freed through the persistent use of direct action and legal intervention.

The Hindu caste system lies at the heart of the injustice. The caste system must be abolished, for as long as we justify the religious and social grounds that the caste hierarchies are based upon there will be forms of bonded labor and servitude. Another solution would be to maintain economic growth in India. The notion of the wealth “trickling downwards” offers hope to the lower groups of the caste system (Singh 173). This idea is founded upon the assumption that as long as the purchasing power and numbers of the wealthy people of India continue to increase dramatically (as it is presently) there are indications that the number of poor will be lowered as the income level increases.

The opening of the Indian economy to globalization and foreign investment is believed to shrink the huge gap that separates the incomes of the wealthy from the impoverished. One can hold different opinions about the caste system being totally alien to the system of estates, which existed in other feudal societies. But it seems clear that the caste system, adopted in India by a considerable part of the population, was inimical to the development to social groups which would have distinctive attitudes to property, means of production, social status, etc. and, what is more important, common interests in economy, politics and culture. India is the favored land of the caste system: for this reason the history of India is, in a way, a crucial experience for anyone who wishes to submit that system to a sociological study (Pocock 28).

The United States class system and India’s caste system are similar and different in many ways. Both deal with the way in which live people throughout society and with the roles in which people accompany in their given societies. Sociology Essays.