“ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes
This paper essentially looks into the changing market structure in the United Kingdom and how it affected the society especially the female population. Broadly, it looks into the changes of United Kingdoms’ economy, how this affected the employment, the feminization of the labor force and it also provides an overview in how it affected the whole world.
The global economy has been in a period of market regulation and expanding labor market flexibility since the 1970s. The frameworks of labor force participation throughout the world were changing with the introduction of new technologies and the new labor control systems. ‘The turn of the century will mark the end of the century of the laboring man in a literal and real sense, in that women will account for almost as many of the “jobs” as men’. The prediction made by Standing (1999) can be seen by any common man or women that machines are replacing skilled and unskilled labor alike in the manufacturing industry.
There are many sociological theories as to how and why the changes in the labor market introduced women to the labor force. One of the first theories popular in the 1940s and 1950s that emerged in the 19th century was the functionalism theory by Emile Durkheim. In essence functionalism describes society as a system of interlinking subsystems contributing to social harmony and stability. It can be portrayed as a human body, in the sense that every part of society works like an organ in a body, and that human body needs to grow and develop, as does society. The whole (society) has greater power than the individual. An opposing theory to functionalism, was/is the theory of Marxism by Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. Haralambos & Holborn (2004) describes Marxism as: “a theory that offers a radical alternative to functionalism.”
Marxism became widely accepted and highly influential in sociology during the 1970s, as it promised to provide answers in which functionalism failed to provide, and partly because it coincided with the views and intentions of the then current society. Basically Marxism became popular because functionalism failed to ‘ answer/provide solutions’ to the problems (e.g unemployment) present in 1970s. It was believed to be a solution to the un-employment and the dysfunction of the society at that time. The key characteristics of Marxism can be described as a ‘ruling class ideology’. The members of the society need to provide basics for survival, everything of value in society results from human labor. Bambic (2010) explains that by its nature capitalism involves exploitation and oppression of the worker, this is accentuated through his description of the ruling class ideology as ‘ one institution’: ‘The central institution of capitalist society is private property, the system by which capital (that is money machines, tools, factories, and other material object used in production) is controlled by a small minority of the population. This leads to two opposed classes, the owners of capital (bourgeoisie) and the workers (proletariat), whose only property is their own labor time, which they have to sell to the capitalists.’ Comparing these two contrasting sociological theories one can say that both theories have their pros and cons, but it can be argued that functionalism looked at society as a whole, as well as a group of individuals who worked together to build up the society they were living in. On the other hand Marxism never looked into the human component of the society and it can be described as a system where the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. Looking at both theories from a feminist point of view, though Fredrich Engels argues in his work The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) that Marxism would give women more independence, in reality it just made women more dependent on their male...
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