top of page

Sociology | Class 12 | Patterns of Social Inequality and Exclusion

In this chapter, we focus on a similarly significant element of these institutions: their contribution to the development and maintenance of patterns of inequality and exclusion.



Social exclusion and inequality are universal realities. Social inequality and exclusion can feel inevitable and even natural because of how commonplace they are. We frequently consider them to have been "earned" or "justified" in some way.

Not everyone has the same opportunities and life chances. For the castes that are oppressed, they are less.

What is social about exclusion and social inequality?

  • First, social inequality and exclusion are social in nature since they affect groups rather than individuals.

  • Second, despite the fact that there is frequently a direct correlation between social and economic inequality, they are social in nature since they are not economic.

  • Thirdly, there is a clear pattern to social inequalities; they are systematic and structured.

Social inequality

Social inequality is a term used to describe patterns of unequal access to social resources.

Some social inequality is a reflection of fundamental disparities between people, such as their disparate skills and efforts.

Social inequality exists because:

  • They are about organisations rather than individuals.

  • Second, despite the fact that there is frequently a direct correlation between social and economic inequality, they are social in the sense that they are not economic.

  • Thirdly, societal disparities follow a clear pattern that is systematic and organised.

Social resources

In every culture, some people are more likely to have access to valuable resources including money, property, education, health, and power. These social assets can be broken down into three different types of capital.

  • Financial resources in the form of income and tangible assets.

  • Cultural Resources, such as rank and educational background.

  • Social Resources takes the form of contact networks and group affiliations.

These three types of capital frequently overlap and are interchangeable. A person with financial means, for instance, can purchase a pricey higher education and so accumulate cultural or educational capital. Someone with powerful family members and friends (social capital) may be able to land a well-paying job through access to sound counsel, recommendations, or knowledge.

Social Stratification

Sociologists refer to a hierarchy-based ranking system for different groups of individuals in a community as social stratification.

People's identities, experiences, relationships with others, and access to opportunities are all shaped by this hierarchy.

Three fundamental ideas that help to explain social stratification:

  • Social stratification is a feature of society, not only a result of personal preferences. A system of social distribution known as social stratification unfairly allocates social resources across different groups of individuals.

  • Over generations, social stratification has persisted. It has a close connection to the family and the passing down of social resources from one generation to the following. The social standing of a person is assigned. The practise of endogamy supports the aspect of social inequality that has been assigned. That is, since marriage is often only permitted between people of the same caste, there is no chance that intermarriage will cause caste boundaries to become muddled.

  • Ideological or belief patterns serve as the foundation for social stratification. Unless it is widely seen as fair or inevitable, no system of social stratification is likely to endure across generations. The caste system, for instance, is justified by the contrast between purity and defilement, with Brahmins being considered the most superior and Dalits the most inferior according to their place of birth and line of work.

People experience discrimination due to:


  • Prejudices are preconceived notions or behaviours held by one group of people toward another. The word's literal meaning is "pre-judgement," which refers to an opinion formed prior to any familiarity with the subject and without taking into account any relevant evidence.

  • Both positive and negative prejudice are possible. The phrase might refer to a positive pre-judgement even though it is typically used to describe negative ones.

  • Prejudices frequently stem from established, rigid characterizations of a group of individuals known as stereotypes.

  • Are frequently based on hearsay rather than on actual proof, and they are steadfast in their resistance to change in the face of fresh facts.


  • have prejudices as their foundation.

  • It describes a fixed and rigid view of who individuals are.

  • Frequently used to describe ladies as well as racial and ethnic groups.

  • A full group is regarded as homogeneous, for example. Rajputs are thought to be brave people, and while guys aren't supposed to cry, girls are.


  • Practices that exclude members of one group from opportunities available to others constitute discrimination, such as when a person is turned down for a job due to their gender or religion.

  • Because discrimination may not be overt or blatant, it can be exceedingly difficult to demonstrate.

  • It is possible to argue that prejudice is not the driving force behind discriminatory behaviour or behaviours.

Social Exclusion

The term "social exclusion" describes situations in which people are prevented from fully participating in society as a whole.

It centres attention on a wide variety of issues that keep some people or groups from taking advantage of opportunities that are available to the majority of the population.

People need to be able to take care of their own housing, food, clothing, and transportation needs, as well as access to a variety of other necessities like education, health care, and transportation in order to live full and active lives.

Social exclusion is a systematic phenomenon brought on by social structure, not by coincidence.

It is crucial to remember that social exclusion occurs involuntarily, meaning it happens regardless of the preferences of the excluded.

It is sometimes incorrectly claimed that social exclusion is justified by the excluded group's own lack of interest in participating. When exclusion is blocking access to something valuable, the validity of this argument is not immediately apparent.

Long-term exposure to offensive or discriminatory behaviour frequently results in a reaction on the side of the excluded, who subsequently give up seeking to be included. For instance, "higher" caste Hindu groups frequently forbid members of "lower" castes, especially Dalits, from entering temples.

Caste System as a Discriminatory System

  • Correlation between Social Status and Economic Status

  • Caste and class are closely related to one another.

  • The possibilities for success in life and access to resources are better for those who belong to the upper caste.

  • People from the Shudra community are now holding higher positions, and vice versa, for example. K.R. Former President Narayanan, a member of the Dalit community. Former Speaker of the Parliament Mira Kumar

  • In contrast, Dalits are educated and work as doctors, whereas Brahmins are peons and clerks in metropolitan areas.

  • Since people's attitudes have not altered, it is not pervasive at the micro level.

it is discriminatory because:

  • Exclusion: The harshest kind of exclusion was experienced by the untouchables. They were not given the same possibilities as others, and they were excluded from everything, even the little things.

    • e.g. They were not permitted to draw water from the Brahmins' wells, pumps, or lakes. They were not permitted to engage in the festivals rituals and ceremonies that others would. They had to take a bath with the cows and buffaloes.

  • Exploitation: They were given jobs with low pay and little responsibility (washing the bathroom, wetting the roads, cremations).

    • No one desired the positions they were given, and they weren't paid. They suffered from inhumane treatment and exploitation.

  • Shame: They were forbidden from donning colourful attire, were not permitted to travel on the same roads as Brahmins, were required to walk with their heads lowered if a Brahmin passed by, and were not permitted to wear chappals in front of Brahmins.

  • Subordination: The Brahmins were subdued and they were beneath the upper caste.

Governmental provisions for SC and ST


laws, regulations, amendments, and welfare initiatives.

They are intended for those who are economically and socially disadvantaged because they lack the possibilities and chances in life that they ought to have.

No one else is allowed to occupy the SC and ST seats that the government reserves for members of the lower caste.

They are quiet in the workplace, the legislature, and educational institutions. Numerous provisions are included, such as an age restriction and low selection standards.


It is not like norms; it is a legal foundation.

The only educated people were Brahmins, and the British required their assistance.

Caste-related laws were passed, however they were not well implemented.

1. The Caste Disability Removal Act of 1850 was established in order to allow members of lower castes access to educational institutions so they could pursue their own education.

2. Abolition of Untouchability—Article 17: Legally sanctionable if practised.

3. Act passed in 1889 to prevent atrocities committed by Brahmins against lower castes, such as beatings, forbidding people from wearing colourful clothing, street cleaning, etc.

4. The 93rd amendment is the Constitutional Amendment Act of 2005. No one can be uneducated because it has to do with education.

Other Backward Classes (OBCs)

those segments of the advanced caste that experience economic hardship.

Even though they are treated like Dalits and live in extreme poverty, there is no untouchability.

Since they lack education and are given the same employment as Dalits, reservations are given to them.

Kaka Kelelkar Commission

  • Determine which caste or subcaste should be given the title of OBC by visiting various areas.

Mandal Commission

  • Large problem in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

  • the Govt. of V.P. Singh offered reservations, but not in others.

  • Other individuals protested in response to this.

OBC politics

  • Politicians promise OBCs reservations merely to increase their voter base.

  • Upper OBCs are those OBCs who fare better than the other OBCs.

  • The Dalits are in the lowest tier.

Adivasi Struggle

[Vanjati (early settlers), Adivasi, Girijans, and anjati (forest dwellers).

They enjoy being alone or isolated, and they work in jobs that are closely related to the forest.

They were hunters and gatherers, beekeepers, and roving farmers.

During the colonial era

  • Forest residents are exploited to the fullest extent.

  • Forests were cut down to make room for roads and railroad tracks as well as to collect lumber.

  • The tribal people who relied on the forest for their livelihood suffered a setback.

  • Some of them turned to thievery and began stealing wood and killing animals.

  • Others moved to neighbouring cities and towns and started working as labourers for pay.

  • As a result of the tribal people's uprising and complaint, the British decided to set apart territories as exclusive or partially exclusive zones.

  • Non-tribals were not allowed in the area, but this restriction was not well enforced because the weaker groups were ignored.

Post independence

As development advanced, the native people suffered (roads, railways, tracks had to be made and timber had to be used).

The culture of the indigenous people is distorted by hydroelectric projects (dams), usage, and recreational activities.

The indigenous people were uprooted as a result, losing their source of income.

Due to prejudice and exploitation, the tribal peoples started revolts, rebellions, and protests.

Jharkand, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh were founded as a result of the Adivasi/tribal movement.

Women's organisations for rights and equality

Although it is believed that women are naturally and physically less strong, they are not less strong socially or economically.

The patriarchal culture and mindset of the populace are to blame for this.

Social reformers

The masculine reformers sought to improve conditions for Dalits and women in society.

Raja Rammohun Roy

In 1829, he influenced Governor General William Bentick to abolish Sati Pratha. Later, he founded the Brahmo Samaj to educate young girls and improve the position of women.

He supported widow remarriage and wished to put an end to child marriage.

Dayanand Saraswati

To educate girls, he founded the Arya Samaj. enhancement of women's social and economic status. The legalisation of gay marriage promoted widow remarriage.

He opposed women studying western education and advocated for them to learn about housekeeping and the Vedas because they would eventually labour at home. The Arya Samaj was responsible for this social endeavour.

M.G. Ranade

Being a Hindu Brahmin, he was horrified by the treatment of women. He published two books and made a plea to the populace by stating that even in the Vedas, it was not stated that they should be treated poorly or shouldn't remarry.

Jyotiba Phule

He was a Dalit and founded the Satyashodhak Samaj (truth seeking society), an organisation that focused on the plight of Dalits and women. He was also the first Indian to construct a women's college in Puri.

Syed Ahmed Khan

He was a well-educated Muslim who advocated for the education of Muslim women because they were suppressed under the Purdah System. However, he also believed that they should learn housekeeping skills because they would eventually work in households.

Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar

His focus was widow remarriage. He disagreed with how widows were handled.

He promoted community marriages and urged men to wed widows. To show respect for the women, he took this action.

Reforming females

Tarabai Shinde

  • wrote a book in 1882 called "Stree Purush Tulana" that discussed how males

  • She was oppressed because women of her race had such a poor social rank.

  • Women were mistreated and treated like slaves.

  • Men would wed women because polygamy was common.

  • She wrote the book to spread her belief that women were degraded.

  • understanding of the value of women.

Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

  • wrote an intriguing short story called "Sultana's Dream" in 1915 that featured a mystical universe and men and women in different roles (satire).

  • The women would work, jobs, go in rockets, and the male would typically work, jobs, remain there, cook, and do all the domestic labour.

  • In practise, doing domestic chores as a male was very rustic.

  • Men ought to assist ladies and occasionally take them out.

  • provisions for women, positions, and women's status

  • There were very few organisations that battled for women in the 19th century.

  • Many women's organisations were formed after the country's independence to advance women.

Karachi Session of 1931

A few suggestions were made that were subsequently incorporated into the constitution.

1. Regardless of one's caste, language, religion, or sexual orientation, everyone is considered equal in the eyes of the law.

2. Without regard to caste or language, women should be permitted to take positions in society and in government.

3. Voting should be open to everyone, regardless of caste, religion, or other affiliations.

4. All women have the right to vote, to run for office, and to accept any position.

Differently-Abled people

the challenged physically and mentally, or the Disabled.

These words have been modified since they are extremely insulting and ought not to be used.

In addition to having physical and mental limitations, individuals also face societal prejudice and lack mainstream social integration.

These words are misused and regarded as insults.


1. It is innate or genetically determined.

2. may result from mishaps (physically impaired).

3. Karma or fate is to blame.

4. They are fiercely independent and viewed as victims of fate.

5. They ascribe their incapacity to everything they do. Although they don't want it, others express sympathy and pity.

6. Whether they have a negative self-perception or not, disability is linked to their self-perception (fierce independence).

7. We believe that those who are disabled need assistance.

The antagonistic character in mythical movies in the past has always been someone with a disability.

Discrimination against people with disabilities exists, but society does not accept them.

Poverty and People with Disabilities

They lack the options and chances in life that others do.

Poverty results from their lack of education and inability to find employment.

Begging results if they are rejected by their family.

Mother has too many children as a result of filthy living conditions, poor health care, and inadequate education, and lack of polio drops results in disability (inadequate immunization, one crowded housing)

2.19 crore persons in India are physically challenged, according to the 2001 census.

Differently abled people started to organise and protest, and the government passed legislation in response.


bottom of page