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Compare and Contrast two major theories of Social Inequality- Can Inequality be eliminated?

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast two major theories of Social Inequality- Can Inequality be eliminated? A major theory of inequality is the one propounded by Karl Marx who argues that social inequality is not natural but stems from the construction of the unfair capitalist system. Marx sees the workers or the proletariat as being exploited for their labour by those that own the means of production Marxists see social inequality as manifested in the fact that workers do not benefit from the wealth that their labour produces instead Marx claims that they are 1'pauperized'. The poorer working classes get poorer whilst the rich enjoy getting richer this is illustrated by income inequalities all over the world; the poorest 20% of people in the USA have seen their incomes fall by 19% whilst the top 5% saw their incomes rise, in Australia the richest ten per cent of the population owns about half the nation's wealth in the USA its over two thirds. A limitation of Marx theories on inequality is that it only focuses on economic inequality. Many sociologists would agree with Marx that economic inequality is the most significant form of inequality at the moment whilst acknowledging that economic inequality and social inequality, as we live in a modern multi- cultural capitalist country are inextricably linked and are affected significantly by gender, racial, religious and ethnic inequality. ...read more.

Middle

derived within their culture is 'devalued' and they therefore do not have equal opportunities to excel academically which of course restricts their employment choices and socio-economic position in the future. We can see therefore that inequality is institutionalised, as Marx alludes to in the labour market, and that education is perhaps the first agent of stratification. M. Tumin has also criticised Davis and Moore by condemning their notion of functional importance as questionable and too vague. It ignores the differential of power. According to Tumin differences in pay and prestige will be affected by, and often reflect differences in the relative power of groups and individuals in the labour market rather than the job's actual functional importance. Therefore differences in pay can actually be more a reflection of the relative strength of the workers' union and bargaining potential rather than of functional importance e.g. coal miners and farm labourers. Davis and Moore suggest that inequality is universal as it can be identified in all societies. Such views would suggest that inequality is not eliminable. Marxists ideas contradict this view. Marx claimed that inequality could be eliminated with the development of class consciousness and the abandonment of capitalism however the Soviet communism model proved that in the modern world this was untenable. Equality came at a high price- by the collapse of communism in 1989 equality had come to mean people simply had equally low living standards. ...read more.

Conclusion

Loury calls for4 'major structural remedies to speed up progress toward racial equality' which will in turn reduce the economic inequality that ethnic minority groups face. The New right perspective argues that social inequality has persisted throughout the ages; Saunders states that 'there has never been a completely egalitarian society'. Every society has its male and females, rich and poor it's big and small and it's old and young. In this absolute sense there is some truth to the assertion that some degree of inequality is inevitable. However inequality itself is unequal it varies with time and culture which validates the theory that inequality is socially constructed and thus can be eliminated. In Britain granted we have moved from the stark extremes of inequality of slavery in imperial Britain but only to an 'acceptable' economic and social inequality that is institutionalized within our capitalist system, unequal access is built into the structures that support and maintain our contemporary society. It can be argued that the current degree of inequality is not advantageous to society and a reflection of unequal talents in society as Davis and Moore claim nor is it an inevitable product of the capitalist system as Marxists argue; it is a matter of choice. Through the lax way we regulate corporations compared with the harsh regulations placed on workers unions, how we distribute the tax burden and how we set wages. We limit the power of workers thus limiting their socio-economic position. ...read more.

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