Social Inequality

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Economic inequality Pages: 5 (1764 words) Published: April 14, 2013
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status, social class, and social circle. Areas of social inequality include voting rights,freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing, traveling, transportation, vacationing and other social goods and services. Apart from that it can also be seen in the quality of family and neighbourhood life, occupation, job satisfaction, and access to credit. If these economic divisions harden, they can lead to social inequality. The reasons for social inequality can vary, but are often broad and far reaching. Social inequalities exist between races, classes and countries. The results of such social inequalities can be seen around the globe in the history of all countries. Social inequality is different from economic inequality, though the two are linked. Social inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. While economic inequality is caused by the unequal accumulation of wealth, social inequality exists because the lack of wealth in certain areas prohibits these people from obtaining the same housing, health care, etc. as the wealthy, in societies where access to these social goods depends on wealth. Social inequality is linked to racial inequality, gender inequality, and wealth inequality. The way people behave socially, through racism and other forms of discrimination, tends to trickle down and affect the opportunities and wealth individuals can generate for themselves. Thomas M. Shapiro presents a hypothetical example of this in his book, The Hidden Cost of Being African American, in which he tries to demonstrate the level of inequality on the "playing field for blacks and whites". One example he presents reports how a black family was denied a bank loan to use for housing, while a white family was approved. As being a homeowner is an important method in acquiring wealth, this situation created fewer opportunities for the black family to acquire wealth, producing social inequality. In many developing countries, the increase in NGO's has perpetuated social inequality. The work of NGO's and their expatriate employees and volunteers has "fragmented the local health system, undermined local control of health programs, and contributed to the growing local social inequality". The work of the NGO's disrupts the local health care system by taking control away from the local population. This in turn means access to proper health care for the poor is inefficient, while those who have money can pay for sufficient medical care. This increases the 'outcome gap' between the people, thereby increasing social inequality. This inequality is the result of various NGO's putting their interests and goals ahead of those of the people they are trying to help, along with struggles between various NGO's working on the same issue. Gender discrimination - especially concerning the status of women - has been a topic of serious discussion not only within academic and activist communities, but also by governmental agencies and international bodies such as the United Nations. These discussions seek to identify and remedy widespread, institutionalized barriers to access for women in their societies. By making use ofgender analysis, researchers try to understand the social expectations, responsibilities, resources and priorities of women and men within a specific context, examining the social, economic and environmental factors which influence their roles and decision-making capacity. By enforcing artificial separations between the social and economic roles of men and women, the lives of women and girls are negatively impacted, and this can have the effect of limiting social and economic development. It has been observed that global issues like HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, and poverty are experienced far more often by women than by men; in many countries,...
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