Social Stratification In Uzbekistan: Theories And Classes

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When it comes to the growth and progress on an economy there are numerous aspects that play their part. This can be seen in the fall of many economies where they neglected a single aspect that was seen to be minute. Even so, the civilizations that are created over the years and the fall of many of them have made it clear how complex these situations can get. The following document is looking over one such aspect of the social and economic structure of a country. The paper will be an evaluation of social stratification within the country of Uzbekistan. Social stratification from both the past and the present will be taken into consideration so as to learn the various changes and impacts the phenomenon has on the growth of a nation. The paper will look towards historical documents that have documented the various vital events that took place in the history of Uzbekistan. Granted, they are related to the notion of social stratification either directly or indirectly.

Introduction to Social Stratification

The phenomenon of social Stratification refers to a ranking system. Social stratification both make various social classifications and decides the value of those categories as a part of a hierarchy. The groups within the hierarchy by nature will have more power and greater status when compared with groups from the lower end of the hierarchy. Social Stratification is seen to be a trait of society and not just a reflection of the differences that individuals have within society. The phenomenon also applies to all generations regardless of the current time period. Research states that; “Since the earliest-known writings on the nature of human societies. There has been a recognition that social stratification is a central part of all human organization. In his Politics, in 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote of the natural grading of free people and slaves. More recently, during the Age of Enlightenment, philosophers such as Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu wrote of the feudal system of social stratification and its inequities. By the mid-1800s, the classic sociological theorists such as Marx, Durkheim, and Weber began more systematic analyses of the system of social stratification using concepts that remain with us to this day” (Kerbo, 2017).

Views of Historical Social Theorist

The concept of social stratification might seem to be liner and simple, however, classical sociological theorists do not agree on much except the definition of social stratification. In fact, there are multiple legacies concerning to social stratification theories. These legacies are built upon the works of Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber. Among the three, it was Karl Marx who made the most effort to have a more comprehensive theory of social stratification. With the help of Engels in 1848, Max was able to craft one of the most famous documents on the subject of social stratification titled “The Communist Manifesto.” In the book both Max and Engels have the following views on the subject; “The history of all hitherto prevailing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian. Lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word. Oppressor and oppressed. Stood in constant opposition to one another. Carried on an uninterrupted. Now hidden. Now open fight. A fight that each time ended. Either in a revolutionary reconstruction of society at large. Or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (Kerbo, 2017).

As the text states, the gist of things always come down to the struggle that the social classes face the society they exist in. Whether three or more, the existence of classes is a testament to the level of struggle that people have to face in accordance to their living standards and net income. Furthermore, this leads the social classes to develop conflicting values in regard to life and what should be the priority in it. Where a class that has it major struggles about to financial aspects of life, people from that class will have a desire to chase after means to attain more of it. Whereas people that have an abundance of monetary/material things might have a more concern to attain worldly pleasures that their society has to offer. The mental outlook is heavily influenced by the individual’s social status as it decides the level of education they will receive. Furthermore, this also becomes the deciding factor for what kind of company they will have as well as what morals will be presented to them in their childhood. With the help of class evaluation, the individual can be fully analyzed and the same can be said about the overall civilization they belong to.

Class Classifications and Their Meaning

The concept of categories within classes came from combining dimensions of the work of Marx and Weber. Many would argue that the best results in doing so were obtained by Erik O. Wright. According to Marx, the class must be defined in relation to society’s productive system. Marx believed this to be a better option over choosing to divide classes based on status as proposed by functionalist philosophers. Following the idea proposed by Marx, he developed a four-class module. This model showcased the practicality of the theories proposed by Marx and Weber. Regarding to the basic concepts suggested by Max Weber; “The basic argument of the present article is that Weber cultivates a theory of the social through the course of his analysis of ‘Class, Status, and Party’… Weber discusses the connection between class and status in two places in Economy and Society: in a section entitled ‘Status Groups and Classes’ and in the ‘The Distribution of Power within the Political Community.’ The relation between these two pieces is unclear, but what we know is that the latter of these sections was written first, sometime between 1910 and 1914.2 This segment on ‘Class, Status, Party’ is Weber’s most complete statement on the subject and is to be found in Part Two of Economy and Society, which is entitled ‘The Economy and the Arena of Normative and De Facto Powers’. Meanwhile, the first of these sections, ‘Status Groups and Classes’, was written much later, sometime between 1918 and 1920, and is published, strangely enough, in Part One of Economy and Society, which has the title ‘Conceptual Exposition’” (Gane, 2005).

The concept of both class and status, while at times used interchangeably, are not the same according to Max Weber. While Weber states that he is aware of the effects that the two phenomena have their place among the development of a society and its economy it remains unclear as to how that happens. It can be argued that due to the variant nature of the world and all the social structures at play it is a difficult task to come up with a conclusive answer. An answer that cannot be subjected to ridicule or be shrouded in bias.

The Four-class Model

The four-class model leads to the concept of the Capitalists, the Managers, the Workers, and the Bourgeoisie. According to Wright, Capitalists were the individuals who had ownership over the means of productions like factories, banks, and other such establishments. Managers the people that have control over the labour of others and they sell their labor to capitalists. Workers are people who only have their labor to sell and bourgeoisie are individuals that have a limited means of production but almost no workers.

Social Stratification of Uzbekistan: Past and Present

At the end of the 20th century, social scientists had developed numerous methodological and terminological apparatuses that would allow them to accurately characterize various processes concerning stratification. However, at the time Uzbekistan was not among those countries that had access to such tools. At best, such methodologies were at their initial stages within Uzbekistan. Several factors were deemed responsible for this delay which included terms of humanitarian development. Humanitarian development encompassed historical and social sciences. Furthermore, there were a host of complex issues that Uzbekistan had to face during the modern transit period. Moreover, with the market environment developing dominance and the global economic space introduced led to people realizing the importance of studying transformation processes in the social structure (Sengupta, & Rakhimov, 2015).

There are parts of this document that is looking to address the financial changes and income levels of Uzbekistan. These changes were governed by various aspects of stratification during the transit period of the country. Thus, for evaluating the required statistics accurately the following paper will look towards studies conducted in the past that noted the changes in the revenue potential of the population of Uzbekistan. The revenue potential of the population will allow the study to be highly objective and accurate in its reflection of the changes found in the social structure. For the following section of the paper, all of the changes that occurred or were underway during the post-Soviet period will be focused on. According to research on the topic; “Despite the complication of the definition of an indicator or set of indicators that would be the most appropriate to the actual financial position of the individual layers, groups and income potential can serve as the basis for the relative separation of the groups based on the poor-middle income-the rich. Following this logic, they can be represented as social groups located at the yield sign in a hierarchical axis of the standard of living and consumption” (Sengupta, & Rakhimov, 2015).

Modern Stratification Processes and their Roots

The transformation that was experienced at the beginning of the 21st century to the social structure of Uzbekistan was heavily influenced by processes that were associated with the transitional phase of development. The second most beige contributor was stated to be the national economy of the country at the time. According to the definition, transition economy is stated to be an economy that is experiencing a relatively long period of disintegration of the old economic system. This also includes the formation of the new economic order and any elements that might be connected to that new order induced. This has the implications that the experienced transient phase of Uzbekistan was not something unique but a recurring phenomenon. When looking at all the available data on the subject it can be deduced that stratification change is caused due to the natural historic procedure. The following assumption is supported by the common definitions that are accepted by an economist about the transitional stage of development.

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When looking to other instances of the phenomenon, studies show that “the first detailed American study in social stratification appeared in 1929 with Robert and Helen Lynd’s Middletown, followed later by Middletown in Transition. This first work was to found a long tradition of stratification studies of small community living in the United States. But the general conflict standpoint of this study was only much later a part of this tradition. The Lynds’ emphasis was on power and economic disparities, and the overpowering image of equality of opportunity in US society was exposed as a myth. With the end of the Great Depression, their view of American society was placed on the shelf and all but forgotten for three decades. Of the social stratification research stimulated by the Great Depression, Lloyd Warner’s work had the most significant impact, at least for the next 20 to 30 years. Like the Lynds’ research, Warner’s many volume Yankee City study was centered on social stratification in small communities. Using various methods of study, from survey research to detailed participant observation, these works sought to examine the extent of inequality and social mobility, as well as the meaning of social stratification for the people involved. But the Warner School differed from the Lynd tradition in three ways. Most important, the Warner School came to define social stratification in terms of status. As Warner and Lunt wrote, ‘By class is meant two or more orders of individuals who are supposed to be and are accordingly classified by the members of the community, in superior and inferior places’’ (Kerbo, 2006).

There is some economist that tend to classify the stages of social development by considering manufacturing as the foundation for evaluating stages of an economic system. Economists are divided in regard to the agrarian society, as there the main key factor is ‘land and farming’. Industrial, post-industrial are other such elements that also contribute to the same end. Studies have stated that; “One crucial element that is less taken into account in both the scientific and political debates is given by the fundamental historical transformations in the older population which are susceptible of modifying the dynamics of social reproduction and the patterns of poverty. As an illustration, in 1979, in the canton of Geneva and Central Valais, 66.6% of the retired population (65–94) had a low level of education; in 2011 only 18.6% of the population remained with such a low human capital. Furthermore, when the Swiss welfare state was established, divorce was almost non-existent. Its rise and with it the increase of lone parenthood created a growing concern for female poverty both in Switzerland and more globally in the Western world, but the debate remained centred on professionally active adults, not on the older population. In contrast, there has been much evidence identifying widows as being particularly prone to poverty in old-age and they have been an issue on the political and scientific agenda in Switzerland in the 1990s” (Gabriel, 2015).

Compared to other nations such as Europe, western and central USSR, a jump from a stage of social development to another one can be seen as a natural course of development for the people of Uzbekistan.

Social Structure and Standard of living of Uzbekistan in 1990

A well-known fact about the Soviet Union is that at the time they were forming triads concerning to social division. These triads served as a base for the polarization of society. However, the division was taken as nothing more than a sham. This is because that was not a representation of the living standards or material wealth of the general population. This was true for Uzbekistan and the Soviet Union as a whole. The country was divided into three-layer in terms of its population and its standard of living/income. These three layers were seen to be rich, average and poor. There are many objective and subjective reasons that are affiliated with the downfall of the Soviet Union. Due to that, the representative of the triads was sidelined when social change and prosperity came. This was in part due to the fact that the economic situation had deteriorated. According to the historical accounts of the time;

“Nationalism in contemporary Russia both has its roots in the distant past and has emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation emerged in 1991 as a multiethnic state unified on lines other than the ideological basis of Marxism-Leninism that typified the Soviet period. Seeking a new basis for unification and a return to stability after the tumultuous 1990s, the Russian state eventually turned to an increasingly close relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church had formed an important part of Russian national mythology dating far into the past and had more recently cultivated a practice of government collaboration to survive through the Communist era. With the Russian Orthodox Church, Presidents Yeltsin and Putin found a willing partner in the development of a new Russian national identity rooted in perceived longstanding traditions” (Potts, 2016).

Furthermore, the long history that the Soviet Union shared with the Orthodox Church came into play there. According to studies on the subject; “The thousand-year history of Orthodoxy in Russia is a complex one, the close relationship between religion and state policy practice with deep roots. Until the Russian Revolution, the state carefully cultivated a connection between Orthodoxy and Russian identity so strong that it has persisted in some form through the dramatic changes of the past century. The focus of this paper is on the present-day cooption of Orthodoxy by political forces in the creation of Russian national identity; with brief coverage of the prior history of this relationship, the modern situation will become far clearer. Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted a very specific form of Christianity in AD 988, one which held to dual Byzantine ideas of government hierarchy and church-state relations. In government, Orthodox theology held that the structure of Earthly governance should mirror heaven, one authoritative figure on top of a wholly centralized system. During the late medieval era, this took the form of the consolidation of power under the Muscovite princes who eventually took the title ‘tsar’ a russification of Roman ‘Caesa’” (Potts, 2016).

These changes to the social network of the Soviet Union could be felt by the general population in all aspects of life. Data gathered at the time suggested that Uzbekistan was at an acceptable level of utilizing durable goods for its citizens. Even so, it was noted that the national statistics were quite different and were the true reflection of the prosperity of Uzbekistan. It was discussed in studies that Uzbekistan was comparable to the individual Republics of USSR. Keeping in mind that the progress of USSR was noted to be rather slow.

Stratification in Sustainable Development

A reality of the time was that the government had power over the financial situation of citizens. The government strictly regulated the financial condition of the citizens. In regard to trade and marketing, the sources were altered. When looking at the documents of the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan it becomes clear that there was a gradual shift from a “planned” to a “market relations” in regard to the economic system. According to experts on the account;

“The transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, which had become the ultimate aspiration by the end of the 1980s, has not been as fast and as easy as many initially expected. Moreover, almost a quarter of an era later, many of the postulates of this transition, based on the so-called Washington Consensus, are not necessarily considered to be the only right ones anymore. Markets cannot be built overnight, free trade doesn’t always create jobs, private initiatives do not necessarily guarantee better quality and accessibility, and the openness of immature financial systems can make national economies extremely vulnerable to external shocks. In analyzing the experience of reforms in Uzbekistan, it is important to consider the many factors that determined the choice of development strategy and instruments of its implementation (which are not static, but change and are adjusted at each stage of the reforms). Additionally, an analysis must look beyond the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market one, to consider the systematic and gradual transformation of the economy, society, institutions, and spatial development, all within a coherent development strategy” (Eshonov, 2017).

As one would consider, the change was not so much in terms of economy but rather a social change. It has been noted that by 2005, the republic was not optimal to the structure of income. The population’s total share of income wages was seen to be less than 40%, whereas countries that had more developed economies that number was seen to cross the 75% mark. In rural areas, the share was seen to be a number even lower being under 20%. At the same time, it was noted that the revenue that was accruing within the families, including pension and benefits, was quite high. For comparison, the rate was around 20%, where pensions amounted to 13% of that value. About other states, there is an excessively high value of sales that leads to income that reaches around the 35% mark of the total household income. According to documents on the matter, the main issue is that;

“In Uzbekistan, farmers do not own the land, instead it is leased from the government. Decision-making regarding land allocation and water use is heavily influenced by government directive. For example, 60–70% of agricultural land must be allocated to the two main state crops: cotton and wheat. Farmers are responsible for ensuring quotas on state crops are met; therefore, they must make decisions around the timing of planting according to field location within the irrigation system. In flood and furrow irrigated systems, such as those in Uzbekistan, unpredictable weather patterns increase farmers’ risk depending on where they are located within the irrigation system. Assessing the risk level is complex as it depends not only on the location within the irrigation system but also on-farm specialization, levels of market risks, temperature fluctuations, soil parameters (e.g. texture, fertility) and other weather uncertainties. Consideration of these multiple aspects requires the use of a spatial crop and water allocation model. Many spatial bio-economic models exist which analyze the impacts of climate change on agricultural production worldwide” (Bobojonov, et al, & Lamers, 2016).


  1. Bobojonov, I., Berg, E., Franz-Vasdeki, J., Martius, C., & Lamers, J. P. (2016). Income and irrigation water use efficiency under climate change: An application of spatial stochastic crop and water allocation model to Western Uzbekistan. Climate Risk Management, 13, 19-30.
  2. Eshonov, B. (2017). Transition or transformation? Social and gender aspects of rural Developm ent as an integral part of the reform strategy in Uzbekistan. International Agricultural Journal, (1).
  3. Gabriel, R., Oris, M., Studer, M., & Baeriswyl, M. (2015). The persistence of social stratification? A life course perspective on poverty in old-age in Switzerland. Revue suisse de sociologie, 41(3), 465-487.
  4. Gane, N. (2005). Max Weber as Social Theorist: ‘Class, Status, Party’. European Journal of Social Theory, 8(2), 211-226.
  5. Kerbo, H. (2006). World Poverty: The Roots of Global Inequality and the Modern World System. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages.
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  7. Marginson, S. (2016). The worldwide trend to high participation higher education: Dynamics of social stratification in inclusive systems. Higher Education, 72(4), 413-434.
  8. Potts, R. D. (2016). The Triad of Nationality Revisited: The Orthodox Church and the State in Post-Soviet Russia.
  9. Rakhmatullaev, S. (2015). Socio-Economic Stratification of Uzbekistan’s Population: Past and Present // South and Central Asia. Insights and Commentaries. New Delhi.

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