The Structure of Social Hierarchy in Developing Countries

 Social Hierarchy in Developing Countries

In academia, the structure of social hierarchy in developing countries is discussed in different disciplines. Sociology, anthropology, and political science are the core disciplines where we can find the details and discussions about this topic.

The structure of social hierarchy in developing countries can be classified on the basis of two factors. A structure of social hierarchy relates to the social institutions and socio-economic stratification of a particular social group in the society. In order to understand more comprehensively. We can say that it is a system of social networks between organizations, social institutions, and individuals. Whereas social institution, social class, culture, and group are the core components of this structure.

Defining social hierarchy

Within the modern social sciences, the meaning and conception of “hierarchy” are of particular interest. Notable scholars, such as Max Weber, Leo Strauss, and Francis Fukuyama, have provided fascinating analyses of the value, role, and organization of hierarchies, especially in modern liberal societies. The term “hierarchy” generally refers to a “top-down, ranking system by which people gain or lose power and privilege through mutual dependence and cooperation.”

The defining characteristics of the social hierarchy are first, that it is connected to both and is the result of an internal system of values and rules that encourages cooperation and stability. 

What is social hierarchy?

A social hierarchy is a structure or hierarchy which determines the degree of prestige or influence. It determines according to different social groups in a given society. You may define it as social differentiation, which relates to differences in levels of social power. Such power may either be direct or indirect.

 In a class-based society, such power is usually gained through possession of wealth, property, or other resources. We can term those as sources of advantage. Indirect forms of power, such as social or political prestige, may be acquired through social connections, special privileges, and cooperative relationships. Thus, social hierarchies may be either hierarchical (based on status differences) or nonhierarchical (based on similarity in rank among individuals or groups) in their nature.

The elements of social structure

There are several different, but often overlapping, kinds of elements of social structure. Among the most common elements, some are important aspects of human cultural behaviors. While others are more basic and include institutions and the actions of individuals in a society. Other elements, such as political institutions, affect both culture and social structure. Finally, a broad range of factors can affect the structure of social structures.

In this analysis, we focus on the different elements of social structure.

Most cultures possess a set of commonly held beliefs about what is “right,” “wrong,” or “truth” in relation to a particular issue or activity.

How does culture affect social hierarchy?

In the first place, cultural aspects of the social hierarchy are based on the accumulation of power by individual elites and exploitation of the lower classes. Sociologists such as Kenneth Boulding emphasize the importance of the economic aspect of the relationship between elites and the lower classes. And, therefore, the cultural aspects in the transformation of hierarchy to another stage.

It is clear that an imbalance in cultural relations leads to a change in power relations. And tend to shift from feudalism to capitalism, depending on the level of development.

How does social class affect social hierarchy?

Social class has the potential to create an enormous amount of social, economic, and political change over a number of years. Class structure sets the social and economic baseline of a society. It is critical for the overall functioning of any society. If not properly applied, social stratification can be exploited by the poor and wealthy of society. In certain environments, this could lead to societal transformation in a short period of time. This is a key cause of poverty. And it is a bit challenging in order to reduce the negative effects of social stratification.

If we understand the current state of social stratification in the developing world. We can focus on using modern technology to create social and economic change.

How does status affect social hierarchy?

Status is the perception that a person has achieved certain levels of social recognition by others. These perceptions, which are often self-fulfilling, define an individual’s position in the social hierarchy.

In a given society, there are two major types of social hierarchy; material (relationships in which there are goods or wealth) and nonmaterial (relationships based on qualities, knowledge, political or other privileges, or social status). Although social status can be correlated to material resources, it is independent of such resources.

Physical attributes are the most obvious features that determine one’s social status. Physical characteristics such as face shape, height, body size, and body hair affect both physical attractiveness and social status. 

What are the consequences of structural inequality (discrimination, prejudice)?

Socioeconomic, cultural, and other social inequalities can reinforce gender inequality. For example, in certain societies, women earn less than men, have fewer assets, fewer hours of paid work, and different expectations of family life than do men. Sexual harassment and domestic violence are more common. Women have less political power and control than men. They generally possess fewer positive social behaviors that protect women from sexual exploitation. Societal bias affects their use of public transportation, in the hiring of police, in schools, and in the delivery of healthcare.


The structure of social hierarchy in developing countries is questionable. In some countries, the caste factor is the core pillar of this structure. On the other hand, some countries have the dominance of elite groups which hold strong influence over socio-economic structure. The complexity of cultures in countries today is an undeniable reality, as countries have grown in number and modernized through time. This phenomenon, however, is a double-edged sword: the increasingly diverse culture provides more options for individuals to form beliefs and make decisions that would give them specific benefits. On the other hand, cultural complexity comes at the expense of freedom of thought and expression.

A result of the inherent culture in developing countries is often a reduction of the dependence on big government in order to provide large-scale social support.

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