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Like most other societies, the people in the Shang Dynasty were part of social classes. In other words, the Shang Dynasty, like most other societies, had social stratification.


There were seven distinct classes, each with their social status and level: Emperor, Nobles, Warrior Leaders, Peasants, Artisans, Farmers, and Slaves. The Emperor was mainly the king in the Shang Dynasty, but he ruled with the other aristocrats in a centralized government. The rest of the aristocrats were supposed to govern the other remaining provinces in the Shang Dynasty (kind of like micromanagers for the emperor). The Warrior Leaders were composed of the generals, infantry, and the chariot warriors, each with different sublevels of class, as in some were superior to others. The generals were the highest command, followed by the chariot warriors and infantry.


The peasants were the third level of class in the societies (yes, above artisans and farmers, even though usually they are in the same class as farmers and merchants in other regions). They were mainly the commoners and ordinary townspeople, counted as the lower class. However, there are some arguments that the peasants were the farmers and slaves of the Shang dynasty - the lowest class of them all. Although, it is inevitable that artisans, farmers, and slaves were all different classes. The merchants were the class below the peasants, and they were below peasants because the aristocratic classes thought that the artisans didn't perform any social actions; all they did was make tools. At least the peasants worked for the society, according to the aristocrats. The artisans were also major in society (although they were said as not useful) because they were able to create the tools and items needed for society. They were considered as not contributing to society but only making trades solely for profit. However, they had to make their trading goods and trade them for reasonable amounts of money. The farmers are the second to the lowest class. They were basically serfs in the sense that they had to work on their land for some sort of profit.


The slaves were the lowest class of the Shang Dynasty. They were supposed to work for the elite classes, such as the aristocracy and the military men.


There was gender inequality in the Shang Dynasty, and the women usually stayed in their homes while the men worked, doing the jobs of their class. The women would usually take care of the household duties, such as making food, raising the children, and doing household chores.

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