Sociology, Social Closure Essay (Higher)

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Marxism Pages: 5 (1571 words) Published: February 23, 2013
Analyse the extent to which social closure exists in UK society. Use two contrasting theories and relevant studies in your answer.

Social stratification is the way in which society is stratified or "made up of layers" of social groups in a hierarchical way. Class stratification is a form of social stratification, which tends to split separate classes, whose members have contrasting access to resources and power. In Britain, society is structured in terms of inequality. Different classes tend to contain the same kinds of people with the same "hidden barriers" stopping them from being able to climb the social ladder. Social closure is when people simply cannot escape the social class they belong to. They have no way of being socially mobile within society. Class can be measured in a subjective way as opposed to an objective approach. The Registrar General Scale of Classification is used to organise society into different classes. Social closure, however, is when a person has the inability to climb or fall from their place in society. And with capitalism, it is essential in order for this ideology to work within today's society. There is a definite divide between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and therefore, social closure, most definitely exists in today's society.

There are a number of different sociological perspectives that attempt to explain class stratification. One theory of which is Marxism. Karl Marx believed that there was a definite conflict between the classes, and that the system of stratification derives from different social groups and their relations to the means of production. From Marx's perspective, a class group is when all it's members share the same relations to the means of production. Marxism also believes that there are only 2 classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, showing social closure. The bourgeoisie exploit the proletariat who have to sell their labour to the ruling class. Marx believed that the ownership of the means of production has the essential ingredient in deciding which class a person belonged to. In modern day Britain, it is capitalism that creates divisions within class in today's society, which relates to Marx's idea of infrastructure impacting society in that the ownership of the means of production create tension between the classes. Marx also believed that conflict would result in change, and that one day the proletariat would rise up against the bourgeoisie and that there would be a revolution, but to this day that is still to come. Which is of course still relevant in our society today, as we can see clearly that the "proletariat" have not risen to revolt against the "bourgeoisie". So therefore, today, we see no social mobility, and instead, social closure.

A strength that Marxism possesses is that it draws attention to the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie, which emphasises the importance of economic ownership within society. This benefits sociologists in that they can easily recognise social closure in the UK today as we see that people who own their own companies are most likely to be the "bourgeoisie" of society. Marx explains how the struggle between the class groups creates conflict within society. This proves to be true in the 21st century as there us a current struggle for power, and the proletariat suffer in a closed system of stratification.

There are weaknesses of Marxist theory, as it is seen by sociologists as "too economically deterministic", and privileges the role of the proletariat, in showing that they exploit themselves to the bourgeoisie. Another weakness is that Marx claims there would be a revolution one day, which has still never occurred, proving that social closure is present in society today, because the working class still have not risen above the bourgeoisie, and there still remains a false class consciousness.

A contrasting theory to marxism is functionalism. Functionalism...
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