Outline and Assess Whether stratification is either inevitable or beneficial to individuals and society?

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Outline and Assess Whether stratification is either inevitable or beneficial to individuals and society?

 Functionalism would argue that stratification is both inevitable and beneficial to individuals and society. Functionalist theorist such as Davies and Moore say that stratification is a permanent and universal feature of human societies, and this is because it is functionally necessary. They go on to say that stratification is inevitable because every society faces the task of ‘placing’ people, i.e. putting people in jobs that they are suited to and are able to carry out efficiently. In order for society to motivate these people to carry out these important jobs respectably they offer higher rewards, such as higher status and higher income. For example a company director supervises hundreds of employee’s while a bin man makes sure the bins are being emptied properly, the company director could easily do the bin mans job, however the bin man wouldn’t be able to do his job as it takes skills and the certain type of person to be in a job like his. This incorporates Davies and Moore second idea of the scarcity of personnel. This refers to the fact that not everyone has the talent or ability to become a lawyer or a doctor, or keep up with the long training of such careers. In order to tempt people to undergo these lengthy trainings they offer financial rewards and high social status at the end of the training period.  

The New right perspective would argue with functionalists and say that social stratification is beneficial and fair, they would however dispute that it isn’t inevitable. Peter Saunders argues that stratification is a good idea because unequal rewards motivate people to work hard; this is because if all the rewards were equal some people wouldn’t pull their weight. Saunders says inequality promotes economic growth. Individuals are motivated to start business because of the possible financial reward , this in turn benefits society as it creates more jobs. This can be seen to be true as under Thatcherism in Britain, the government did motivate people to start up business by offering them all kind of help, such as tax relief etc. New right thinkers like Saunders believe in legal equality and equality of opportunity, rather then equality of outcome. They believe in the free market, which is where what people earn depends on the talents they have and the demand for that talent, i.e. electricians, if theirs loads of demand for electricians then they can earn a lot of money by putting their prices up, as they know people will pay them as there is a shortage for them. The new right says that governments shouldn’t intervene in the market or promote equality as this will take away what motivation the people have to make a living on their own, without relying on benefits.  Saunders sees Britain as being close to meritocracy and having this free market as he thinks that the economic rewards match up with merit and ability.

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The New Right and Functionalism view of stratification has been heavily criticized by people such as Gordon Marshall and Adam Swift.  They say that capitalists  societies are not as meritocratic as the new right claim. They argue that the free market doesn’t offer everyone a fair chance at all, because if your born into a wealthy family then it is a lot easier to start a business as you don’t have to take out massive loans. Luck has a huge part to play in being successful as well. Gordon and Smith point out the fact that evidence shows that ...

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