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Journal number 3 ∘ Amiran BerdzenishviliKakha Ketsbaia
Social Stratification Profile of Contemporary Georgian Society



The article deals with the social stratification structure of contemporary Georgia society. Such important issues as the post-Soviet transformation of the stratification structure of Georgian society and the main factors determining its contemporary social profile are discussed from the viewpoint of social sciences. The idea that the social stratification structure of contemporary society is characterized by pathology expressed in the article is argued via analysis of the factual material given in the article.

     In the article, the above-mentioned problem is analyzed from the theoretical-sociological aspect. The authors admit that Georgian sociological literature is not abundant in the analysis of such problems, therefore works of the Georgian authors in the sphere of economical sciences are used (P. Gugushvili and others).

     According to the conclusion drawn on thebasis of theoretical-sociological analysis and description of the social-stratification structure of the contemporary Georgian society, we are facing a social pathology which, first of all, is confirmed by the scarcity of middle-class representatives.Comprehension of the actuality of this social problem and the necessity of solving it constitute the scientific pathos of the article.

   Keywords: Contemporary Georgian society, social stratification, stratification structure, transformation, social layers – upper, middle lower, stratification factors, pathological stratification.

JEL Codes: A10, A13, A19



     According to present-day sociology, the processes ongoing in society are largely determined by a social stratification structure. Therefore, the analysis of the social stratification structure equals the study of society. Social stratification expresses structural differences between social groups and divides them into social layers. In this case, themain stratification factors are social status, in particular, income, knowledge and education, professionalism,access to power, living conditions and lifestyle, etc. (Berdzenishvili, Ketsbaia, 2019). Almost every society is divided into layers or strata (Sorokin, 1959) Like many other countries, Georgian society has its social stratification structure which changed historically alongside with organizing and development of society. In this case, the actual issue is the following: what are the results of the social stratification structure of Georgian society, what is its social profile and is a different type of transformation possible?

    Historically, Georgian society was characterized by patrimonial and rank (in humanistic dimension – master-serf) social stratification which transformed in the 19th century but it was not a natural transformation, though, in Georgia which was forciblyincorporatedinto the Russian empire, capitalism began to develop: entrepreneurship, working class and other social groups emerged, the peasantry was liberated from the master-serf attitude. Development of the social stratification structure of the annexed country underwent one more forcible transformation, this time as a part of the USSR. In this case, the existing social stratification structure was replaced by a Soviet class structure. During the Soviet period, society was divided into a working class, peasantry and Soviet intelligentsia consistingof people from these two classes. There was also a special group of people which was not discussed by anyone – it was a party nomenclature – the members of this group were allowed everything. In this case, we have a partial and biased social-class stratification. It was almost taboo to discuss rich, poor and middle layers, as well as party, soviet, and administrative-governing layers that were formed during the soviet order and which constantly were moving away from the broad masses of the population because of their property, status and privileges. It can be said that Georgian society for about 70-80 years had to live and work under the conditions of forcibly formed class and social stratification (Lutidze 2002).

    The stratification structure of Georgian society underwent the following, this time a post-Soviet transformation in the 90s of the 20th c. In this case, the following question arises: Are the processes of social stratification and social mobility ongoing in the contemporary Georgian society as beneficial as they are in other civilized socii (Berdzenishvili, Ketsbaia, 2022). It can be said in advance that everything does not go well in contemporary Georgian society in this respect (our position will be expressed in detail in the main part of the article).


The research methods and sources

     Methods of sociological and logico-sociological analysis are used in the article which is based upon certain primary (works of the classics of sociology as well as the contemporary authors) and secondary sources concerning the research problem.

     The foundation of the analysis of society’s social-stratification structure which is a rather important issue from the theoretical-sociological aspect was laid by an outstanding Georgian scientist, academician P. Gugushvili (Gugushvili, 1970, 1971). Recent sociological literature on the formation and social profile of the middle class in Georgian society is very scarce. The representatives of economic sciences are distinguished by the analysis of the issue (Kakulia, Kapanadze, 2018; Samadashvili, 2009, etc.), which should be taken into account, although in our case the main focus is on the theoretical-sociological aspects of the problem.


Social stratification profile of the contemporary Georgian society


     After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the class stratification model characteristic of the Soviet society became part of history. Naturally, there are people engaged in manual labour though they do not constitute the working class as it is understood in Marxism. There are neither collectivefarmers since the socialist property was eliminated. There are people engaged in mental work, though they are not the Soviet intelligentsia. In a word, there were all conditions necessary to return the stratification structure of Georgian society to the normal course of civilizational development during the years of independence (the period of President ZviadGamsakhurdia is meant), but the political factor, in particular, the overthrow of the national government, civil war, losing the historical territories and other anomic situationს (corruption, etc.) created a fertile soil for plunderingthe state property and national wealth. Accordingly, part of the population reached an extreme level of impoverishment while another – the smallest part - grew extremely rich. All these factors made their impact on forming the present-day social stratification structure of society which, as we think, is pathological. And a question arises: what does a pathological stratification social structure mean and what makes us give this name to the stratification structure of contemporary Georgian society?

     Contemporary civilizational socii, naturally, are characterized by a normal stratification structure (Merton, 1968). A normal stratification structure means that the specific weight of the representatives of upper and lower layers in social stratification is minimal and the largest part of the stratification structure is occupied by the middle layer (Parsons, 1983). In the case of a pathological stratification structure, everything is just contrary, in particular, the specific weight of the middle layer is minimal, while the specific weight of the representatives of the lower and upper layers is enormously increased on the social-hierarchic ladder. Such conclusions, as a rule, are drawn on the basis of stratification data but in our case, everything is so clear and evident that even a superficial observation will suffice to see what a social hierarchic ladder of contemporary Georgian society presents. It consists of three layers – upper, middle and lower. The upper layer consists of two – high and low sublayers. The middle and lower layers, in the main, also consist of high and low sublayers.

    The high sublayer of the upper layer consists of the people who have high social status, roles,official and legal duties, power and social prestige. It is the so-called elite (though not an intellectual elite) part of society (Giddens, 2011).

    The low sublayer of the upper layer consists mainly of people whose financial means are big and economic possibilities - growing. The representatives if this sublayer can buy or build fashionable houses villas, and expensive goods, they can travel, spend holidays or receive medical service abroad, let their family members visit foreign countries, they can be sponsors or philanthropists, etc. we can assume that both sublayers of the upper layerrepresent 8-10% of the contemporary Georgian society.

     In difference to western societies, the middle and the lower layers in the contemporary Georgian society are formed, mainly, according to income while other stratification factors, such as education, profession, qualification, etc. have minimal significance.

Incomes of the middle layer representatives are a bit higher than the living wage. For them, it is not a problem to pay communal bills, buy food and clothes, have a dwelling, purchase household equipment, afford to buy individual cars, spend vacations and have fun within the country. The representatives of this layer are businessmen, large and small entrepreneurs, high-rank representatives of medical, engineering – technical and scientific creative intelligentsia,and famous specialists. The high sublayer of the middle layer consists of the representatives of the industrial business and marketing sphere. Prestigious work and a high social rank bring them close to the upper layer.

    The low sublayer of the middle layer is close to the high sublayer of the lower layer. This sublayer unites active people with the knowledge and experience necessary for their working activities; they work in private enterprises, grow agricultural products, and are engaged in commerce, craft production, and small business. The specific weight of the middle layer representatives in the stratification structureof society is 16-18% which isnot a satisfactory indicator. It is just why we say that the existing stratification structure is pathological.

     Nowadays even a first-year student of sociology knows that progress and well-being of society largely depend on the middle layer. In our case, the existing situation is alarming and political stability, economic, legal and other reforms are necessary to improve it.

    The majority of Georgian society, about 75-80% belongs to the lower layer and thus strengthens our position regarding the pathology of the social stratification structure. As noted above, forming the lower layer completely depends on economic factors, and the amount of income. The high sublayer of this layer consists of people who are on the verge of poverty and do not reach the subsistence wage, though they can work. The majority of them receive their incomes from the state budget or private enterprises or both sources. The high sublayer consists of a large portion of our intelligentsia (teachers and lecturers), servants, labourers and peasants.

    The part of society whose income is completely determined by the state budget - pension, assistance variousprivileges - belongs to the low sublayer of the lower layer. Part of them is disabled or passive. This layer consists of persons with disabilities, socially vulnerable, unemployed, internally displaced persons, lonely and helpless persons and others. Unfortunately, the social conditions of the people in this sublayer are extremely grave. (According to Saxstat 2021 data, the number of pensioners and social package recipients will be 971.3 thousand, of which the number of age pensioners will be 793.8 thousand) (Sakstat 2021).

     It is evident that the main stratification factor in contemporary Georgian society is economic (amount of income), while in civilized socii noneconomical factors – education, knowledge, professionalism, culture, etc. are non the less important (Giddens, Sutton, 2014). In our case, the property status determines prestige and it certainly is a demonstration of pathology, while in a normal situation prestige is not defined without considering education, professionalism and culture.


     During the history of its existence and development,the social stratification structure of Georgian society underwent a range of changes and accepted the form it has at present. Nowadays Georgian society consists of the same layers as American or British, but in difference from them the specific weight of the lower layer in comparison to the middle layer is immeasurably large in the whole stratification structure and it points to its pathological character. The solution to the problem should not be left unattended hoping that the internal regularity of development of society will settle it. It will take much time to mend things so the first-rate goal is to create and promote the conditions favourable for forming and developing the middle layer and not struggle against it.



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