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

Outline and assess sociological explanations for class inequality.

Extracts from this document...


Outline and assess sociological explanations for class inequality. There is much debate in sociology about whether class is still important. Many argue that class is no longer important as an individual's identity and life chances are based more status and cultural factors such as lifestyle, values, intelligence, education and the like, the post-modernists state that class has ceased to be the prime determinant of identity and suggest that societies are now organised around consumption rather than production, consequently people now identify themselves in terms of what they consume rather than in terms of social-class position. Class identity has therefore fragmented into numerous separate and individualised identities. Others argue that class is still a central influence on people's lives, that it affects their life chances (health, education, voting, social mobility etc.), they argue that class inequality exists and that such inequalities are widening rather than narrowing. Early theories such as Functionalist theory argue that inequality is functional for society since it makes sure that those who show the most potential talent are encouraged to develop this talent through higher education and training, with the promise of higher incomes when they qualify (deferred gratification). ...read more.


Marx believed that the working class would develop class consciousness when they changed form. He said that there would be a "class in itself" where the members would objectively share a similar relation to the means of production and that there would be a "class for itself" where the members would subjectively become conscious of their own power and act together. Marx argued that inequality is a result of capitalism and that there are only two classes that are defined by ownership of the means of production. He stated that the gap between them would increase and that they will become increasingly polarised. The Marxists argue that inequality has arisen as a result of the exploitation of one class by another. However, Marxist theory has many weaknesses, it does not explain the rise of the middle class and the term "production" only applies to paid work and thus feminists say it ignores unpaid, domestic work done by women. They argue that it cannot explain inequality in relations not centred on the wage relationship (for example, husband and wife). The social, political and cultural factors and ideas can cause change, Marx's attempt to explain the whole of society from an economic base, therefore is impossible. ...read more.


Thus, it can be seen that there are many sociological explanations for class inequality. Both the functionalist and Weberian theories seem to apply to the contemporary society in which we live. They explain that class is not a rigid structure, that social mobility is achievable and that you are not born into a class, where you must remain for the remainder of your life. The functionalists explain that qualifications and higher education can enable you to obtain a better position in society, however it is interesting to note that there are still less working class children entering university than those from a middle class background. The Weberian theory argues that class and status are interlinked, that it is possible to have wealth without status which seems to apply to the society in which we live in today. The Marxist view of class inequality does not seem to apply to today's society, with many people today being part of the middle class, there is no explanation for this in Marx's theory, and he does not account for the growth of the service sector, an industry which is expanding in the contemporary UK. There are many explanations for class inequality which show that although class is not as important as it has been in previous times, it still plays an important part in the lives of individuals today. ...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

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. Marked by a teacher

    'Assess sociological explanations of changes to the class structure

    4 star(s)

    These people are not considered "insiders" of the upper classes they are not true aristocrats but they still have large economic wealth. They fail to have the same self-preservation/social exclusion techniques as the traditional "uppers" but do represent the meritocratic nature of British society.

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

    freedoms and civil liberties, so the worker are being perfectly sensible and not falsely conscious. Max Weber accepted some of Marx's idea's but rejected other. Weber did not believe that a revolution by the proletariat was likely. He disagreed with the view on the inevitability of class conflict.

  1. Identify current patterns of ill health and inequality in the UK. Explain probable ...

    groups being most at risk, this is mainly due to 'food poverty' but over factors could contribute such as education, access and transport. Food poverty exists when households have a much lower disposable income, with prioritising their income firstly to household bills and rent, having restricted spending on food.

  2. Outline and Assess the Usefulness of Conflict Theories in Explaining Social Class Inequalities in ...

    Over 50% of their sample believed that there was class conflict between that ruling class and the powerless lower class. The study also suggested that most people were aware of the unequal distribution of wealth in the UK and the lower class could do nothing to change this.

  1. What Would Functionalists Say About Health e.g. the Sick Role? ...

    not always apply and people are sometimes held responsible for their own disease. While acute illness such as measles are rarely considered the sick person fault, diseases such as alcoholism or lung cancer are usually blamed upon the sufferer because they inflicted the damage upon themselves Here are some examples

  2. Assess different explanations for the causes of poverty in the United Kingdom

    they spend it straight away instead of saving as there is no point. It can be argued that peoples culture is not a cause of poverty, however if children are brought up in this situation these ideas will be implanted in their heads and if they are constantly surrounded by

  1. Evaluate sociological explanations for working class underachievement.

    This theory describes how the working class tend to leave school at sixteen rather than carrying on into further education and shows evidence of a link between parental occupation and the attainment of children. When Halsey, Heath and Ridge attempted to determine the effects of material and cultural factors on

  2. Compare and contrast two sociological theories

    producing and raising the next generation of workers at no cost to the economy (capitalist class) (www.sociology.org.uk). Even though both theories give us a good view of the society, they are both criticised of different things. Marxism is accused of being ?economically determinist?.

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