• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'Assess sociological explanations of changes to the class structure

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Assess sociological explanations of changes to the class structure.' Social classes are groups of people who share a similar economic position; which is based on a person's occupation, income and ownership of wealth. People in the same social class can be identified by having similar levels of education, status (prestige), lifestyle (for example living standard or consumer goods e.g. plasma TV 52' inch) and power. Traditionally the UK's class structure is associated with three-levels: the upper class, the middle class and the working class. However sociologists have noticed a change in this type of class structure and have suggested that the UK is moving away from this class formation. In this essay I am going to outline the traditional class structure (briefly) and talk about the various changes that have occurred to each social class; then I will seek to critically examine a number of sociological explanations for the changes to the class structure. The tri-level traditional class structure is comprised of: the upper class, which is the smallest of the social classes and consists of the cr�me de la cr�me of society e.g. Aristocracy or also named the "blue bloods". These members are usually the wealthiest in the UK; who have inherited their money and position. According to Scott (1991) the upper class maintains their "ruling" position through part taking in the Old Boy Network. ...read more.

Middle

Factors like this have caused the boundaries between classes to become more blurred. Savage et al (1992) investigated the different types of middle class lifestyle and identities. Finally, the working class as the UK is no longer dominated by manual labour (e.g. Heavy industries and factories); the traditional working class is being replaced by a high-tech non-manual worker (who still receives a small income, in comparison to the middle and upper classes). From the specific changes that have occurred to each of the individual social classes; sociologist have been able to summarise a number of explanations for this shift in the UK's class formation. First is the theory of Polarisation, this is the process whereby indistinct groups become clearly separated. It indicates that society is dispersed amongst many different groups and individuals. This is mainly associated with Marxist and Neo-Marxist; the Marxist theory is based on the fundamental importance of economic processes in class-based inequalities and was based on the writings of Karl Marx. While the Neo-Marxist theory is based upon the Marxist theory but take into account not only economic factors, but cultural and social ones as well and relate them to contemporary patterns and trends of social inequalities. In terms of polarisation, Marx believed that certain aspects in the natural development of a capitalist economy will lead to its downfall. ...read more.

Conclusion

Davis and Moore (1945) (functionalists) argued that unequal social and economic rewards were an "unconsciously evolved device" by which societies ensured that talented individuals were supplied with motivation to undertake training which would guarantee that important social roles were properly fulfilled. The last hypothesis used to explain the changes in class is that class is irrelevant to modern society. This view clarifies that class divisions are not useful or applicable descriptions in a contemporary society with so many different ways of identifying ourselves and others being used. Postmodernist writers Pakulski and Waters (1996) in the "The reshaping and dissolution of social class in advanced society", argued that class is "dead", because they believe that we live in an "individualised" society. This is where people no longer identify themselves in terms of their social class. This was caused by significant changes e.g. globalisation, which means class divisions are now status division. The incensement in consumerism means that people are now able to buy the image they want to portray. This means that because class is based mainly on a person's occupation (which affects income) people are no able to buy go that would be usually restricted to certain class. This give they analogy that when people identify themselves in terms of class; there is no a sort of "pick'n'mix" approach towards it - people can buy the identities they want through consumption rather then basing it on class. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a tricky essay as it asks you to outline the changes to the class structure, and then explain them, and then assess each explanation. The last of these areas is least well addressed as there could be more assessment of each explanation whereas at present they sit rather separately to each other. The candidate has done really well to cover so much material, and use perspectives, concepts and theory. Finally, perhaps the candidate needs to address the growth of a perceived 'underclass' and the debate surrounding their emergence (real or imagined)

Marked by teacher Lesley Clark 27/02/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Free essay

    Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of society

    3 star(s)

    Therefore, social institutions can be studied in terms of functions they perform for society and for other sub-systems. A criticism against this would be that Parsons assumes that all institutions serve a positive role in society. Although it was Talcott Parsons who developed functionalism, many of the key ideas can

  2. The education system is meritocratic

    They say that meritocracy is 'made yup' in order to legitimise the system they view the few working class kids in universities as letting a few through to keep the rest quiet as it means people accept their positions as if I would have worked harder I could have achieved this.

  1. "Compare and contrast modernisation theory and dependency theory as explanations of development and under-development"

    Secondly a society which has had an increase in trade and industry with emerging elite who, unlike traditional societies can use scientific and technical knowledge for investment and economic growth like Ghana. The third stage is referred to by Rostow as 'take off', this is when investment grows to around

  2. Can and should sociology be a science?

    is the rate of suicide being inversely proportional to the social integration. Therefore, methods of the natural science, experiments and systematic observation can be used to establish 'laws' of society just as how laws of physics and chemistry are established.

  1. Outline and Assess Whether stratification is either inevitable or beneficial to individuals and society?

    this will take away what motivation the people have to make a living on their own, without relying on benefits. Saunders sees Britain as being close to meritocracy and having this free market as he thinks that the economic rewards match up with merit and ability.

  2. Autobiography - I am going to write about the first day at secondary school.

    bus every day and I felt relived, then when I got home I told my family about my first day and my journey to school and my brother laughed at me because I counted the bus stops when he was only joking about ten bus stops, but I showed every

  1. Discuss the similarities and differences between conflict of Marxist theories and functionalist theories in ...

    Dialectical materialism contradicts the social equilibrium theory by stating how the economic base and conflict is the root of all change in society. Dietzgen believed that the economy influences change on all other social institutions and all change as the product of a constant conflict between opposites arising from the internal contradictions inherent in all events, ideas, and movements.

  2. Assess the usefulness of an Interactionists perspective on education.

    Some studies show that teachers often attach labels regardless of ability or attitude. Instead they label pupils on the basis of stereotyped assumptions about their class background, labelling working class negatively and middle class positively. Interactionists are interested in how and why teachers label pupils, and the effects it has.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work