The Structural Approach, in general, distinguishes between caste and class as extreme form stratification. This polarity is often expressed by saying that caste is characteristic of India and class of western society
. Indian society as understood to be based on ascription (birth), closed, collects ritual sanctions interdependence and particularistic values western society is based upon opposite values of achievement, openness, individual merit, competition and universalism.
Thus this view caste and class predicts that westernization, urbanisation, industrialisation, and etc. change caste class, but this understanding of caste and class has been challenged by Yogendra Singh and K Sharma.
There is no polarity between caste and class and it is wrong to say that the soil grows ca: while the machine makes class. Caste and class are found as a part of the same reality in India as it cannot be concluded that caste will change into class. Caste has been emphasised in Indian social because it had certain peculiar features and because it is a native category but this does not me that there have been no classes in India.
American Approach to Class
The American Approach to the study of class has been given by the American sociologists Lloyd Warner in his famous Yanke City series of researches on the social structure of an American city Warner has started his research by assuming that economic factors are the most important in the social structure of America, and so stratification must be defined in economic terms. His research he ever revealed that stratification in America involves criterian other than economic and so he gave the American concept of class in terms of a number of characteristic.
Thus upper class consisted not only of the wealthiest people but also those descended from families who had settled earlier in the city. Below them was the lower upper class consisted of those with newly acquired wealth and a shorter history of residence in the city. Below them came the upper (middle class consisting of businessmen and professional people ranked high because of the occupation.
The lower middle class consisted of small business men and white collar workers e.g. clerks, schoolteachers, etc. ranked low because of their occupation. Then there was the upper lower class consisting of skilled workers with respectable occupation and the lower class consisting of unskilled workers with occupation not considered dignified. This six fold classification of class in America came to be based on four inter-related characteristics i.e., income, occupation, education, length and area of residence.
These characteristics were used as indices for a synthetic concept of class by Lloyd Warner and three of these characteristics were indicators of the prestige rather than economic position.
Thus there was a status hierarchy based on what in America people themselves say about their class position and it was used by them to determine with whom to associate.
There was a noticeable tendency to interact socially only with those who were considered to be of the same status.
In this way Warners study of the American class structure is closer to Weber’s status group than to Marx-Weber understanding of class.
Indeed the Americans has do not consider their society to be based on class in the classic sense of Marx-Weber, because they feel that America is a land of opportunity in which there is no room for the formation of rigid and closed classes, a society in which there is nobody who is very rich or very poor but everybody belongs to middle class a shown by numerous surveys, a society in which ethnic (racial and religious) factors play a much more important role than class conflict.
The American concept of class treats caste and class as polarities so that a caste based society is characteristic of an agricultural society which is closed, rigid and ascribed with ritual sanctions restricting interaction and inter-marriage, while occupation and class are found in industrial society with the opposite characteristics.
In the article “Two Definitions of Class” Raymond Aran called this American system of class an attributional concept of class and contrasted this with the Marx-Weber concept prevalent in Europe which he calls the inter-actional concept.
In the attributional concept of class a series of attributes or characteristics are taken as indices (index) to construct a scale of ranking which is synthetic. This scale of ranking is said to possess characteristics given to it by conventions which are contrasted with other scales of ranking
On the other hand inter-actionable approach stresses the formation of group with different economic interests and these groups are near to the extent their members potentially recognise themselves and are subjectively conscious of their membership of group.
The inter-actionable approach says that different groups are in conflict and so may change. It is a dynamic concept of class which can apply to all societies. This is Marx-Weber understanding of Class based on differences of property or service lead to such groups as land owners, tenants and labourers which may be present in all societies at all times.
In India both Caste and Class are present in this sense and are related to each other, since they constitute the part of same reality. It is necessary to find out what their relationship was in the past and how this relationship has changed over a period of time.