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Discuss the differing approaches to the definition of social class, and reflect on how they might influence the conclusions we draw about inequality in Australian society.

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Introduction

Name : C Sountharam Address : 9/42 John Street, Ashfield, NSW 2131 Email : csountharam@hotmail.com Tel (h) : 61 2 97164827 Module : Introduction to Social Analysis - CBS1103 Trainer : Mrs Beate Steller Assignment : Assignment No 3 - Although commentators may agree that an understanding of social class is important for an understanding of our society, there is considerable difference over what they mean by social class. Discuss the differing approaches to the definition of social class, and reflect on how they might influence the conclusions we draw about inequality in Australian society. Term : 1 year 2003 Date : 2003-05-13 Although commentators may agree that an understanding of social class is important for an understanding of our society, there is considerable difference over what they mean by social class. Discuss the differing approaches to the definition of social class, and reflect on how they might influence the conclusions we draw about inequality in Australian society. Class is the main organising system of modern capitalist society by which power, privilege and inequality are distributed and institutionalised (Goodman,1992).It involves analysis of the structure of the society as a whole (Cuff, Sharrock & Francis 1979).According to the Marxist view economic production becomes the fundamental around which all other social activities are structured (Cuff, Sharrock & Francis 1979). ...read more.

Middle

Significantly the social disadvantage transfer from generation to generation. According to the functionalist view some form of stratification is inevitable socially. They view society as composed of a complex system of statuses and roles. In order for a society to function those 'statuses' must be occupied by well qualified people. The most important positions require extensive training. Subsequently the person undertaking such responsibility has to be compensated with high rewards and opportunities. Therefore society develops some systems of unequal rewards. Functionalist argues that talents and skills are not equally distributed in society (Cuff, Sharrock & Francis 1979). Thus stratification is necessary to motivate those with necessary skills to occupy necessary positions and maintain stability in the society. This case appeals to the professional class or 'upper class' in society but creates inequality (Goodman, 1992). The Functional importance of any position in society can be difficult to establish, and for example a garbage collector who requires little skill and training, is essential for the community as well as a doctor ( Haralambos, Krieken, Smith & Holborn, 1996).This possibly creates unequal life opportunities and rewards for the society. Stratification also tends to perpetuate inequality. People in a hierarchy tend to foster their children's interest and perhaps deny opportunities to those with superior talent. ...read more.

Conclusion

Especially in the Marx and Weber perspective, theories concentrate on level of income and neglect the examination of the ownership of wealth and property or the source and type of income (Haralambos, Krieken, Smith & Holborn, 1996). In conclusion, it is difficult to discuss stratification without either justifying or attacking it. Most theories of stratification explain why there must be inequality in society. There are a number of ways inequality has been justified, but mainly tends to fall into two main perspectives: Inherent inequality explains the biological superiority and Inequality by merit that endorses opportunities for qualified people. The functionalist view supports the later and asserts that in every society there are some positions that are of greatest importance and require a great amount of training or talent. From a functionalist perspective, stratification is an unconsciously evolved device. In contrast, Marx argues that private ownership of the means of production created the oppressive class system. Likewise, Weber asserts that the class struggle is over the distribution of goods in which power is significant to distribution. Theories which justify inequality can be seen as convenient rationalizations (Mckee, 1981).The existence of inequality is seen by some as a persistent feature in Australian society. Classlessness, it would seem, is an idea whose time has not come yet. Therefore class is important in Australia, even more today, because inequalities appear to be increasing. ...read more.

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