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Explaining Social Class and Stratification. There are many elements to the changes in the class system. Expansion and fragmentation of the middle class is one, where the class is becoming larger and within the expansion fragmentation takes place

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Introduction

Explaining Social Class and Stratification Question 1 Social class is divided into three groups, which are Upper class, Middle class and working class. Each class refers to a group of people who share similar characteristics such as economic position, occupation, share ownership and wealth. Social stratification is a form of layering people into a hierarchy, with groups that are at the top with more power to the people at the bottom with less power. There are many examples of social stratification, here is just one, The Caste System in India is a religious based (Hinduism) stratification. Castes are ranked, named and endogamy (in marrying) groups. People are placed into castes by birth alone. There are thousands of castes and subcastes, with the highest being a Brahman who is very prosperous to the lowest an Untouchable who live in poverty, social disadvantages and are discriminated against. Question 2 & 3 There are many elements to the changes in the class system. Expansion and fragmentation of the middle class is one, where the class is becoming larger and within the expansion fragmentation takes place (layers within the class). Another argument of Zweig's is embourgioisement, which is the upper level of working class moving up into the middle class (bourgeois) taking on the economic and cultural lifestyles of the middle class. ...read more.

Middle

is the worst place in Europe to grow up, approximately 25% of children will never escape the poverty trap also the poorest 20 -30% of the population failed to benefit from the economic growth over the period 1979 - 1992. In contrast the redistribution of wealth has only been shared by the wealthy top 10%. The chart below shows the distribution of wealth in the U.K. between 1976 and 2003. Marketable wealth Percentages Percentage of wealth owned by: 1976 1986 1996 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Most wealthy 1% 21 18 20 23 23 22 24 21 Most wealthy 5% 38 36 40 43 44 42 45 40 Most wealthy 10% 50 50 52 55 56 54 57 53 Most wealthy 25% 71 73 74 75 75 72 75 72 Most wealthy 50% 92 90 93 94 95 94 94 93 Total marketable wealth (� Billion) 280 955 2,092 2,861 3,131 3,477 3,588 3,783 When all the socialogists theories of social class are taken into account, a mixture of all five (expansion and fragmentation, embourgioisement, new working class and privatisation, proletarianisation and polarization) is present today. Zweig's theory of expansion and fragmentation in the middle class is in some ways correct as the primary and secondary industries decline the traditional blue collar work is now becoming white collar work although the conditions of work and pay have not increased in line with the status, with more people joining the middle class (embourgeoisment) ...read more.

Conclusion

Goldthorpe introduced three main divisions which the class groupings were placed, Service, Intermediate and working class. It recognised the growth of the middle class and the fragmentation taking place, it also takes into account market positions (income and economic life chances such as promotions, sick pay and hours worked). Self-employment had also been accounted for. The problems are, it acknowledged that both manual and non manual share similar experiences of work but it still placed non manual over manual and women still had no place, even if they were in a higher grade occupation than their husbands. Although this scale takes more of the society into consideration it still doesn't show the full picture. The scale which is used today is the NS-SEC, based on employment relations and market conditions, other amendments are the unemployed are now listed as class 8, women are now recognised as a distinct group of wage earners. Each category contains both manual and non-manual workers with there no longer being a divide, it also recognises changes in the occupation structure (worsening pay and conditions). This scale weakness is, it is still based on occupation and the boundary problem is still evident. Although the unemployed are now included, people who don't need to work due to wealth are still unaccounted for and it doesn't show status occupations. In conclusion, the NS-SEC is the most accurate in comparison it still has a long way to go to reflect the full structure. ...read more.

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