“Social inequality is a necessary evil of capitalist society”. Please comment with the reference of the sociology perspectives being discussed in the lecture and textbook.
In the 21th century, the existence of social inequality has already raised to the surface, which give rise to a torrent of furor. Many people sees social inequality as an individual problem, people experience inequality because of their ability or laziness. However, this is somehow not the real case. Indeed, social inequality can be the consequence of the institution of the society, or, simply a characteristic of a particular economic system. This is exactly why social inequality is said to be a necessary evil in a capitalist society. In this essay, the reasons that social inequality must exist in a capitalist society is going to be discussed.
The term ‘capitalism’ can be ambiguous, so what really means ‘capitalism’? Over these centuries, capitalism has been further divided or mutated into many types of systems. Generally, capitalism is an economic system. The most notable and common meaning of capitalism is the private ownership of the means of production. Private ownership means that individuals consist of the freedom to control their own assert. This means individuals will not interfere with one another as they use, exchange (sell) or give away what they find unclaimed or abandoned, what they make, and what they get from other persons by gift or exchange (purchase). (Watts, 1975)
Compared to capitalism, the definition of social inequality is relatively clearer. Basically, anything unequal happened within a society or groups can said to be a social inequality. Sociologically, according to Marger(2005), the more evident inequalities in nowadays’ society are mainly the differences in income and wealth, differences in social standing and prestige, and differences in power. Now, do ‘capitalist society’ and ‘capitalism’ consist of an identical meaning? This is a very discussible question. Rather than only an economic system, the influence of capitalism is more than that. As Marxian theory stated that economic institution are the determinants of the entire system of society, the society’s economic foundation conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general (Marx and Engel,1968, cited from Marger,2005), it is believed that a capitalist society refers to a society the norms and culture of the societies are influenced by its economic structure, namely capitalism. In a capitalist society, some particular characteristics are developed. As this is not an economic analysis, the focus point would be more about social characteristics. First of all, the capital accumulation is a trait that the owner, or the entrepreneur was dependent upon not only the accumulation of his own capital but also the aggregation of the capital of others.(Schumpeter, 1942) Besides, in a modern capitalistic state, competition is engaged to capitalism. The competition between corporations is the key to lower the costs of production and prices, and also the competition among workers to compete for limited employment, while competition leads to a maximization of self-interest. Democracy is also said to be the necessities of capitalism. Przeworski and Wallerstein (1982, cited from Goodin, 2009) explained it by using the term ‘class compromise’. Democracy is the compromise between capitalist and workers as it brings out the equilibrium that they share the same political power even through their quantity of wealth are unequal. This is redistribution, according to Prezeworski and Wallerstein. Lastly, modern capitalist society triggered the variation of forms of capital as nowadays, money and raw materials are not the only things that create profit, and this will be further discussed below. In this way, how these characteristics reflect or contribute to social inequality? Let’s discuss this issue from different sociological perspectives. From the...
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