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The concept of a social class structure was identified by the famous German theorist Karl Marx, duri

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Introduction

The concept of a social class structure was identified by the famous German theorist Karl Marx, during the mid-nineteenth century. He believed that, social class was determined by the ownership and non-ownership of economic production. Capitalists were those that owned the means of production and those individuals that worked for them were called proletariat, which means a worker. His explanation of class was based on economic terms; hence an individual was either the owner of production or a labourer who sold their skill (Day 2001). However, Max Weber found that the Marxism view was too simple, he agreed with the idea that many different classes exist, but the key factors that decide which group an individual belongs to was mainly determined by status or social prestige according to his view (Marx and Class online). Therefore, our habits and lifestyle determines our social class. In relation to the idea of the existence of a class system in Britain, many modern theorist have attempted to define social class and on what grounds can one be categorised, is it wealth?, occupation? education?. However, there is no agreed definition of social class but it is accepted that many social differentiations exist within society. The focus of this assignment is to, clearly define a social class and then to look at whether these class structures are still existent in modern day society, or has Britain become a 'classless' society. These factors will be analysed through looking at areas in which social class structures are evident, in this essay I aim to focus on the political, educational, occupational and health sectors, which help identify whether society today is classless or not. What Weber called 'status' corresponds very closely to what in everyday life is often referred to by non-sociologists as 'class'. This is a style of life which involves specific types of dress and bodily adornment, types and sizes of house, areas of residence, clothing, accent, methods of cooking and eating, and so on. ...read more.

Middle

According to the national statistics, the children of the manual workers are underrepresented within the higher education to that of those of the non-manual workers. The year 2001/ 2002 seen 19 % of the manual participants within the higher education, where as 50 % of non-manual participated within the higher education (Gillborn & Safia Online), from this we can clearly see an example of class differentiation. Additionally, in higher education we find class variation as mostly those from wealthy backgrounds go further on to higher education and have better job prospects. Those from lower classes are also motivated to carry on further studies as the idea of better jobs and opportunities in the future motivate them. However, the problem experienced by most people, is the financial aspect as many are unable to afford the high expenses of higher education. This then leads them to quit education, and take in part time jobs which are in the lower classifications of the social class structures (Social class and education online). Therefore, in universities we tend to find individuals from upper class background rather than lower classes, this is further supported by the figures obtained as shown below (Reid 1998). Figure1 Education and qualifications SEG % with higher education % with no qualifications % attended private school 1 78 3 26 2 35 17 12 3 30 19 6 4 9 40 1 5 5 56 1 6 1 74 1 Furthermore, the social class structure is evident within the employment sector as it consists of a hierarchy of occupations. These define the job classifications to which individuals belong to. We can also identify that through occupations, individuals are classed in a particular groups which show their capabilities and represent their social status. This aspect maintains the class barrier; this is because we find that those in a higher level occupation are on the upper end of the scale with professional jobs. ...read more.

Conclusion

This idea in my opinion still exists in British society today, as we find inequalities exist in various fields such as health, education, and employment and so on as discussed earlier. Such inequalities provide the basis for a social class to develop and consequently people are categorised into these structures according to their skills, authority and status. Further, Marx argued that if the working class were conscious that their labour was being exploited by capitalists or often referred to as bourgeoisie then they would act to overthrow a capitalist society and establish a new form of a classless society (Jary & Jary 2000). However, the question is that have we produced a classless society today, there are few people who believe that Britain is a 'classless' society as most people see Britain as a class-bound society. For Britain to become a classless society certain questions need to be inquired these include, what would a classless society look like? What measure should be taken to make people view each other equally? Lastly, is it realistic to suppose that such a 'classless society' can be brought about in practice' (Cannadine 1998). However, since there are many inequalities in society of wealth and power it makes it difficult to define a classless society if these inequalities have not been abolished. Also that today people in the lower classifications are still affected in many different ways. Therefore, in summary we conclude that we do not yet live in a classless society as Britain still has many inequalities present in many areas such as employment and education. These inequalities make Britain a class-bound society where people are segregated into different classes through their habits, lifestyle and social status. However, we can argue that, although these class structures exist, people from various classes treat each other equally in comparison to historical times where class was more important. Hence, Britain may not be a classless society but we could be moving towards such a society (Cannadine 1998). ...read more.

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