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Briefly outline one major inequality which exists in the UK today. Analyse and discuss measures to tackle this inequality,

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Introduction

Briefly outline one major inequality which exists in the UK today. Analyse and discuss measures to tackle this inequality, This essay aim to outline one major inequality, which exists in UK today and measures to tackle this inequality. Social inequality influences all aspects of our lives. "Inequality is the quality of being unequal; difference, or want of equality, in any respect; lack of uniformity; disproportion; unevenness; disparity; diversity; as, an inequality in size, stature, numbers, power, distances, motions, rank, property". http://www.brainydictionary.com/words/in/inequality178154.html. In particular, i will focus on inequalities found between men and women, which know as gender inequality. "Gender" refers to the socially defined differences between men and women. As the word suggests, "inequality" means unequal rewards/opportunities for different individuals within a group or groups within a society. Additionally i will integrate sociological perspectives such as functionalism, radical, Marxist or liberal feminism to explain the causes of inequalities and in particular those found in the areas of education and work. In every human society there is some form of inequality, even in western society the foundations of inequality are power, economic differences and social prestige. "In Western society the main system of division is referred to as social class and indicates an individual's economic standing in society, which can be dictated by occupation and income." (Walsh et al 2000:45). In addition to social class, other divisions within the stratums occur through a process called differentiation. O'Donnell (1987:231) describes differentiation as "process which makes an individual or group separate and distinct". As in all systems of stratification it illustrates the organisation of inequality in society and has historically been the stratification of people on the basis of age, ethnicity, disability, and in particular gender. In civilise societies there are two terms of reference for men and women 'sex' or 'gender'. Sex, defined by Giddens (1993:762) as the "biological and anatomical differences distinguishing females from males", refers to the visual or physiological differences between men and women, such as genitalia or women's ability to bear children. ...read more.

Middle

With the opposite being true black women are doubly oppressed firstly on the grounds of their colour, an issue which is over looked in most types of feminists and then on the grounds of their sex, Moreover, whilst systems of patriarchy exists in Western culture, within black culture a matrifocal system is more dominant. Matrifocal systems differ from matriarchy, as women are not dominant or 'rule' over men, but rather organise themselves independently of men (Taylor et al 1998:131). Black girls do exceptionally well in education with research showing 42% of them achieving four GCSE's at grades A-C in comparison to 24% of boys who achieved the same. (Social Trends 2000:58). Black feminists also distance themselves from the 'anti-man' bias of white feminists preferring to see black men as allies in the common struggle against racism. Further they see white feminists as reinforcing the stereotypes of black men being sexual predators. However, whilst girls do well in education the inequality they experience continues into their working lives regardless of their ethnic origins. Women in Britain today represent 50% of the workforce. 8% of who are mothers with pre-school children and 21% who work part time (Moore 2001:85). Whilst this may appear to be a fair representation women suffer inequality through lower pay, poorer working conditions and less opportunities to progress within the hierarchy of employment referred to as horizontal and vertical segregation Horizontal segregation is the term sociologists use to describe the concentration of women and men in different types of occupations (Taylor et al 1998:135). Traditionally more men than women enter jobs in agriculture, engineering, construction and forestry. Women however, enter occupations concentrated in areas such as education; welfare, health service; clerical work, catering and other service sector related jobs. These jobs, usually found at lower levels of industry attract lower rates of pay even thirty years after the introduction of the Equal Pay Act (1970) ...read more.

Conclusion

By 2006/7, 35% of senior civil service posts and 25% of the top 600 civil service posts should be filled by women (Lead: cabinet office). http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/research/Delivering_on_Gender.pdf All this recommendation will only be successful if we are honest about gender inequality where they exist, and take specific action to tackle them. In summary, all societies have some form of inequality. In western society class is the main division of inequality which is then 'gendered' and gives rise to gender inequality experienced predominately by women. A system of patriarchy (male dominance) operates in which men "seize most of the material rewards and social privileges" (Taylor et al 1998:119). The women's movement (collectively known as feminism) challenge cultural attitudes and assumptions which hold women back in both work and education and has four main divisions which are liberal, radical, Marxists/socialist and black feminism. Functionalists, however dispute the challenges of feminists, from the viewpoint that the division of labour is natural and is the 'heart beat' of society. Conclusion, inequality is sewn into the fabric of society and until attitudes change women will continue to experience inequality. Whilst to a certain extent functionalist are correct in saying the family (bearing in mind the term 'family' has various definitions) is central to human survival the division of labour needs to be flexible. Should women wish to contribute financially then they should and the running of the home be divided between men and women on the basis of a partnership and not on an employee/employer basis which occurs mainly because of the benefits to capitalists. As Ann Oakley eloquently states "Men and women cannot be equal partners outside the home if they are not equal partners inside it" (cited O'Donnell 1987:323). In modern society noticeable change has happened, but even with the tireless campaigns of liberal feminists and the implementation of various laws women still continue to be disadvantaged as society continues to be patriarchal. The solution then is for women to organise themselves to is independent of men but also to be educated enough to confidently compete with men and use the laws available to their advantage. ...read more.

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