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- any identifiable ‘layer’ within a hierarchical system of SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, social STATUS positions, etc. (compare CLASS).
- (formerly, in Eastern Europe) an identifiable grouping or category within a ‘non-antagonistic’ system of social stratification or social class. Such groupings or classes have been termed social strata and/ or ‘non-antagonistic’ in acknowledgement of the claim that all such groups share in a common relation to the MEANS OF PRODUCTION. They remain identifiable since their different levels of education, culture, consciousness, etc. continue to set them apart. See also INTELLIGENTSIA.
an intermediate or transitional social group that does not have all the characteristics of a class, for example, the intelligentsia; also a class subdivision that possesses certain distinctive traits, for example, skilled and unskilled workers. In Marxism-Leninism, class is the basic element of scientific conceptions of the social structure of a class society and the social stratum is a subordinate element. In non-Marxist sociology, however, the social stratum is considered the basic element of social structure, while classes, if they are considered at all, are usually treated as one of the forms of social strata.