Few sociological problems have aroused so many bitter controversies as the subject of our inquiry. Many of these controversies remain unsettled. Kurt Mayer calls the "condition of social class theory." "Chaotic." The situation is complicated by the intrusion of moralistic and political views, which ought to be kept out of scientific analysis, but there is agreement on at least one point: social stratification is generally conceived as a structural feature of a given social system (Bergel, 1962).
Let us first consider material structures from which the term is borrowed. An office building is structured because it is divided into rooms. All rooms can be of equal size, can serve the same purpose, and can be rented for the same sum: they are neither different nor unequal. The same can be said of some social units. The United States Senate is a group of a hundred members of equal rank, equal authority, and equal voting rights (Bergel, 1962).
Differences and inequality are neither actually nor logically qualities of all structural systems. But the more complex a system becomes, the less it is likely that its parts will remain uniform and equal. Either of two entirely different processes accounts for the emergence of a structural system. Originally independent units can be united into a larger whole while remaining discernible as parts. In this case we speak of integration (Bergel, 1962).
The distinction is of importance because some authors assume that social stratification results only from the differentiating processes within a formerly undifferentiated unit. ...