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What are the similarities between a class and caste system?

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Both the caste and the class systems are types of social stratification. Social stratification occurs in societies and large groups of people where the individuals are categorized into different groups based on certain demographic factors.

In both the caste and class systems, discrimination based on the categories is evident. In such societies, it is rare to have individuals belonging to different categories interacting closely.

Both types of stratifications may be determined by birth, with the main difference being that upward or downward mobility can occur in a class system—while in a caste system, it cannot. 

In both systems, the upper classes and castes are always looking to protect their positions, while the lower classes and castes continue to agitate for better status and the benefits that come with the status. The situation generally leads to conflict and a need to address the differences.

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The class system is generally based on a person's occupation, education, and wealth, while the caste system (most notably in India) is based on a person's birth. They are both systems in which those at the top receive more prestige, opportunities for education and self-improvement, protection and preferment from the government and legal system, and wealth than those in the middle and at the bottom of the system.

In theory, the class system allows some flexibility or movement between classes (through education, for example), while the caste system is rigid, as one is born into a caste and remains in that caste forever. However, in the United States and other countries, it can be difficult for people to gain the education, wealth, or social status necessary to move up in the class system. In addition, people in a higher-status class often deem those in lower classes as less worthy, a situation that also exists in the caste system. In other words, both the class and caste system involve prejudicial and pejorative attitudes towards those in lower classes or castes. 

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jess1999 | Student

A class system is mostly based on a person's wealth . Such as if you are in the wealthy class or the middle class . The caste system itself is actually quite similar to it . For example , the caste system is how society views just like how the class system is based on how society views you . The main differences though in the caste system is that you are born into your class and you are unable to get out of it . You have to do the work that your caste system requires , and society definitely treats you differently based on your ranks . Such as if you are in the untouchables then people definitely do not want to go near you . 

krishna-agrawala | Student

System of class is a system that classifies a society in different groups that have nearly the same standing in the society. Such groupings can be on the basis of may different factors such as wealth, power, prestige, ancestry or birth, religion, and occupation. Every society has some system of social classes based on one or more of such factors.

Caste system is a particular type of class system in which the social grouping is done on the basis of birth. The cast system generally refers to such system that exists in Indian subcontinent. It is worthwhile noting that the caste system in India was originally a system of prescribing codes of conduct of people to suit the requirements of their occupation. But as the occupation of people became hereditary the cast system focus changed from occupation to birth and heredity.

In general class system permits some flexibility to individuals to move from one class to another. However such flexibility is not available in any class system based on ancestry or birth. Thus cast system also does not permit any mobility to individuals to move from one class to another.

Generally a class system involves ranking of different groups in minds of people as superior and inferior. The caste system also involves such ranking of different castes. The class system can be informal or formal. The caste system of India is quite formal and well defined.