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Effectiveness of Perspectives in Social Stratification

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Sociology assignment 4 Unit: social class Davis and More contend that stratification is a permanent and necessary feature of human society because it is functionally necessary. Effectiveness of Perspectives in Social Stratification Functionalist theories of stratification seek to explain the operation of society as a whole. "They argue that all social systems, such as educational or political groups, share certain functional prerequisites which must be met if the system is to survive and operate efficiently." Functionalists assume that these systems are parts of an integrated whole and therefore one group's outcome will be dependent on that of other groups. The most famous Functionalist theory was presented in 1945 by Davis and Moore, entitled 'Some Principles of Stratification'. This article highlighted the existence of stratification in every human society and tried to explain 'in functionalist terms, the universal necessity which calls forth stratification in any social system,' (Haralambos and Holborne, p4) Davis and Moore identified one such Functional prerequisite, or need, as 'effective role allocation and performance' and contend that Social Stratification is the mechanism for ensuring this need is met by allocating unequal rewards to different positions within society. This simply means that people differ in their innate ability and talents, whilst positions differ in the ability or talents needed to fulfil them as well as their importance for the survival of society so it is important that there is a person to fill every position and also that they are filled by the most suitable/able person. ...read more.


Marxists contend that in all stratified societies there are only two major groups. These are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the ruling class and the subject class, or the have and the have-nots. "From a Marxists view point, a class is a social group whose members share the same relationship to the means of production," (Haralambos and Holborne p9.) The bourgeoisie are the minority that own and control the means of production i.e. land, buildings, machinery and capital. This private ownership is the main reason for social inequalities because the proletariat class, "with no means of production, had no alternative but to work for the bourgeoisie." The bourgeoisie make maximum profit or unearned income by keeping wages unfairly low. This exploitation oppresses the proletariat class and results in a basic conflict of interests between the two classes. Marx himself said "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force." By this he meant that democratically elected governments were largely influenced by the bourgeoisie because they could not afford to ignore their power in hiring and firing and location of industry, which could lead to unemployment and other social problems. This meant that the laws protected the owning class rather than the workers. ...read more.


"Weber contradicted Marx with his claims that the white-collar 'Middle class' expands rather than contracts as capitalism develops" due to the requirement for large numbers of administration and clerical staff. "Thus he saw diversification rather than polarisation," (Haralambos and Holborne p13.) He also rejected the Marxist idea of the proletarian revolution and the view that political power derived exclusively from economic power. "Weber's pluralistic approach to social stratification has been criticised for making it very difficult to specify stratified social groups in society..... The boundaries between various groups are almost impossible to specify and we tend to end-up, with a stratification system that is highly fragmented and almost impossible to classify coherently," (sociology.org.uk.) In conclusion, most contemporary studies of stratification are based on the conflict view of the Marxist or Weberian perspective. Whilst some modern sociologists have remained close to the original theories, others have attempted to explain modern class structures by adapting the original theories. Such sociologists are referred to as neo-Marxists and neo-Weberian. Although there have been attempts to merge both approaches in to single and conclusive theory, society is organic, evolving and made up of individuals, therefore it not possible for any theory to become an exact science. We must grow our theories as we grow our society. In Marx's own words, "We develop new principles for the world, out of the world's own principles." (1843, cited at Marxist.org) Mrs Jodieanne Dainter ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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