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Assess the importance of evidence from studies of social mobility for the main theoretical debates about social class

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Introduction

Assess the importance of evidence from studies of social mobility for the main theoretical debates about social class. There are two main theoretical debates about social class; firstly the debate as to whether society is a meritocracy or whether it is based on ascription and secondly the debate as to whether class matters anymore and whether the lines between classes are still clear or whether they are now blurring. Functionalism holds the view that society is a meritocracy, that is, people gain their jobs and pay based on merit; the more they are valued and the harder that they work, the better they do in society eg. according to Functionalism, a banker only earns in the region of �4million a year because people value what they do and thus are seen to deserve their money. This theoretical debate is supported by evidence from a study conducted by New Right sociologist Peter Saunders (1996). In this study, Saunders examined the results of the National Child Development Study (NCDS), a longitudinal study which focuses on a sample of people born in 1958 and 1970 and follows them and their children. ...read more.

Middle

This also shows that while Britian could be viewed as a meritocracy, it can also be viewed as a society based on ascription. The above information supports that Marxist view that social mobility mostly consists of of people moving within the proletariat (working and middle classes) and that those born into the capitalist class tend to stay there and inherit their wealth. This links into Weber's view that in the capitalist class, 'old money' or wealth that is inherited is more valued than 'new money' (that that has been earned by the current individual) for example, Katie Price would not be allowed into the VIP area at Ascot. This again shows that although evidence from studies of social mobility is important for the main theoretical debates about social class, and allows both support and evaluation of the theoretical debates making them more relevant to real life it does not aid with the search for the correct theory as there is evidence supporting the theory that society is based on ascription and supporting the idea that society is meritocratic. The other main theoretical debate about social class is whether class matters anymore, or whether class boundaries have blurred too much for it to be influential. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows that evidence from studies of social mobility are important for this theoretical debate as in this case at least it helps to deduce which is the stronger of the two theories. However, feminists believe that class is unimportant in todays society as gender is the main division. This is visible in the study by Savage and Eggerton who found that 75.5% high ability service class sons remain in the service class compared to 67% high ability service class daughters, as well as this, there are still gender divisions in work, religion and politics. For example, in work, women often encounter a glass ceiling where they cannot gain a promotion as they take maternity leave and this holds them back in their career, as well as this, many religions restrict women and do not allow them to become members of the clergy. Therefore, although evidence from studies into social mobility are can be seen as important for this theoretical debate on social class, it can also be seen as misleading as their is still evidence for multiple sides of the theory. Overall it can be seen that although evidence from studies into social mobility can help weed out unhelpful theories on social class, it is also relatively unimportant as generally studies can be found to support both sides of an argument. ...read more.

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