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What are the characteristics of a sociological approach to studies of inequality?

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Introduction

What are the characteristics of a sociological approach to studies of inequality? A sociological approach to studies of inequality will have to consider characteristics such as class, gender, race, poverty, sexuality, health and education to name but a few. 'Social stratification' is a sociological term and can be defined as "structured inequalities between different groupings of people" (Giddens, 1998, p.240). In modern societies, class divisions are the most distinctive form of stratification, as a person's social class has a large bearing on their life chances. Whilst a person is born 'into' a class, social mobility (i.e. moving, normally up, the ladder of class structure) provides an individual with the opportunity for social change. Although attitudes have changed in recent years, the most acceptable way to belong to the upper class is to be born into wealth. People living in poverty face inequality on a daily basis. They will be more likely to have a poor standard of housing, live in a deprived area, eat a poor diet, suffer from ill health, receive a low standard of education which in turn will affect their job prospects, which in turn will determine their standard of housing; it is a vicious circle. ...read more.

Middle

(Giddens, 1998). The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report has focussed attention on the issue of institutionalised racism in the criminal justice system and new recruitment practices try to reflect that we live in a multi-racial society (West Midlands Probation Committee, Annual Report, 1998/99). Despite this, another example of institutionalised racism is evident in the present Labour government's policy of giving vouchers to refugees - these refugees are deemed by the government as being incapable and not trustworthy of spending their money on 'appropriate' goods and so are given vouchers in place of cash. Another group of people in society who experience inequality are lesbians and gays. Same-sex marriages are not legally recognised in the UK and lesbian and gays are discriminated against in other areas; e.g. same sex partners cannot be each other's next of kin and immigration laws do not allow a lesbian or gay man's partner to reside in the EU. There is also inequality in the age of consent; heterosexual and lesbian couples can have sex at age 16 but the age of consent for homosexuals is 18 years (www.stonewall.org.uk, 2000). ...read more.

Conclusion

This is better for both the service user and the service provider because when problems are considered from all angles they are more likely to be resolved, which means that the service provider is offering a quality service and the service user is less likely to need the service again. When a service provider thinks sociologically the service user will feel validated, in control of their own lives and, most importantly, able to maintain their dignity. Thinking sociologically can help the service provider because once a way of thinking has been 'learned' it is impossible to 'unlearn'. For example the service provider may find themselves questioning the way something is done and simply being told that it has 'always been done that way' will not provide a satisfactory answer; the sociological awareness brought about in the care provider's mind through thinking sociologically will render them less easily influenced and more inquiring (Bauman, 1997). (word count: 1021) TEXT BOOK BIBLIOGRAPHY Author Year Edition Title Publisher Place Bauman, Z. 1997 1st Thinking Sociologically Polity Press Cambridge IN: Giddens, A. 1997 1st Readings in Sociology Polity Press Cambridge Giddens, A. 1998 3rd Sociology Polity Press Cambridge Webb. ...read more.

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