Social Inequalities

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To find out as to what extent social class not only shapes attitudes, values and beliefs, but also has a significant impact on life chances, I will begin by defining social stratification, social class and life chances. Sociological theories will also be used to help understand society. Education and employment impact on society will also be discussed using journal articles obtained as a guide. To understand social stratification, it is important to make a distinction between social inequality, which refers to the existence of socially created inequalities whereas social stratification is a particular form of inequality. It refers to the presence of distinct social groups which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such as prestige and wealth. Using the functionalist theory, we can understand stratification better as this theory views society as a system that is set of interconnected parts which together form a whole. Talcott Parsons (1902- 79). Davis and moore (1945), claimed that all societies have some form of social stratification. George Peter Murdock (1949) maintained that the family exists in every known human society. All these people seem to suggest that individual families and social stratification meet needs that are common to all societies. I agree with the functionalism theory as it is small groups such as families that make up society as a whole. Each family trying to survive and do better than others in the process bettering the society. For a society to survive, functional prerequisites of society are required as Marion J. Levy (1952) argued that a society would cease to exist if its members were absorbed into another society or involved in a war of all against all. Marion J. Levy ’ s argument can be challenged. With the shortage of housing, families getting absorbed into another society would be replaced by families searching for accommodation. On the other hand, ethnomethodologists follow Alfred Schutz (1932) in believing there is no real social order as other sociological perspectives assume. Social life appears orderly to members of society only because members actively engage in making scence of social life. According to Zimmerman and Wieder (1971), society go about the task of seeing, describing and explaining order in the world in which they live. Social class - Savage et al. described social class as social collectivises rooted in particular types of exploitative relationships. These collectivises are groups of people who share levels of income, lifestyles, cultures and political orientations. An example of this could be a group of footballers, would share the same level of income, with similar lifestyles will act or be seen or perceived differently to golf players who are equally rich but may have a different lifestyle to footballers. This can be linked to Marxist theory. Karl Marx (1818- 83) regarded people as both the producers and the products of society. People are regarded as producers as they make society and themselves by their own actions. People are regarded as products of society in that they are shaped by the social relationships and systems of thought they create. To support Karl Marx ’ s comment on people being a product of society, a real life example could be given where a student joins university for the first time. University can be regarded as a society with different individuals, all trying to achieve the same thing. It is up to the new student to choose the group he joins and this will affect the student ’ s life at university if in a bad group or good group thereby making the student a product of that society. Life chances- Gerth and mills, (1954) stated that a person ’ s position in a stratification system may have important effects on many areas of life. It may enhance or reduce life chances that is their chances of obtaining those things that are desirable and avoiding those things defined as undesirable in their society. (Max Weber). To help determine whether in...
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