'Assess sociological explanations of changes to the class structure

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'Assess sociological explanations of changes to the class structure.'

Social classes are groups of people who share a similar economic position; which is based on a person’s occupation, income and ownership of wealth. People in the same social class can be identified by having similar levels of education, status (prestige), lifestyle (for example living standard or consumer goods e.g. plasma TV 52’ inch) and power. Traditionally the UK’s class structure is associated with three-levels: the upper class, the middle class and the working class. However sociologists have noticed a change in this type of class structure and have suggested that the UK is moving away from this class formation. In this essay I am going to outline the traditional class structure (briefly) and talk about the various changes that have occurred to each social class; then I will seek to critically examine a number of sociological explanations for the changes to the class structure.

The tri-level traditional class structure is comprised of: the upper class, which is the smallest of the social classes and consists of the crème de la crème of society e.g.  Aristocracy or also named the “blue bloods”. These members are usually the wealthiest in the UK; who have inherited their money and position. According to Scott (1991) the upper class maintains their “ruling” position through part taking in the Old Boy Network. This is a type of social exclusion which ensures that high status jobs (according to the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NSSEC) scheme these are jobs like large employers or high managerial occupations) are “banked” for other upper class-men. This could also be called “Elite Self-Recruitment. Next is the middle class who typically included populace with professional occupation, for example teachers. They are the second-smallest, they don’t have as much power as the upper class-men, and however they still have high-status occupation which provides generous incomes, usually in the non-manual (tertiary) sector. They still remain superior of the working class. Lastly is the traditional working class, this is the largest social grouping and is made up of manual workers; who are usually employed in the heavy industries.  

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In contemporary UK the tri-levels of the traditional class structure still exist, however there have been several theories from sociologist who all belong to a different school of thought that have expressed their reasoning and opinions on this new class formation that influences today’s society. According to the various sociological theories and explanations, changes have occurred to each individual level of the tri-level structure. Foremost is the upper class, even though this social class still exists in modern society, it has been complicated by the introduction of the super rich (this term refers to the people who have an achieved ...

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This is a tricky essay as it asks you to outline the changes to the class structure, and then explain them, and then assess each explanation. The last of these areas is least well addressed as there could be more assessment of each explanation whereas at present they sit rather separately to each other. The candidate has done really well to cover so much material, and use perspectives, concepts and theory. Finally, perhaps the candidate needs to address the growth of a perceived 'underclass' and the debate surrounding their emergence (real or imagined)