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Essay On Social Inequality

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Social inequality has been one of the controversial worldwide issues for many years. Social inequality can be viewed as differential treatment among individuals due to their socially defined characteristics including race, gender, economic class or ethnicity. In modern societies, “class” is used to show the social inequality’s structure. (Crompton, R., 1993) Class is a popular label to differentiate people by their lifestyles and materials they are using which are the obvious forms of inequality in life. (Carchedi, G., 1989) In fact, there are various general definitions of class while analysts have been looking for more precise meaning, the best and accurate definition. Karl Marx and Max Weber, two major classical theorists, accounted for the social class from different points of view which generated impressive insights to the modern thinkers and guided certain allocation of social categories. In this essay, their studies on theories of class will be discussed respectively followed by an investigation of their applications in the contemporary society in Hong Kong.
Karl Marx: all histories are “the history of class struggle”
Generally speaking, class can be perceived as “social groupings that differ mainly in their command of economic or material resources, such as money, wealth, or property” (Coleman and Rainwater, 1978; Bell and Robinson, 1980; Grabb and Lambet, 1982; Lambet et al., 1986, see also Rothman, 1993: 106; Kelley and Evans, 1993, cited in Grabb. E.G, 2007, pp.3). Karl Marx (1818-1883) aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of transformation of capitalist society (Crompton R. 1993). His class theory lies on the premise “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” (Marx and Engel...

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...e chances
Unlike Marx, Weber believed that class situation represent different ‘life chances’ while Marx claimed that differences in class results from exploitation. Weber believed that taking life chances can help individual to achieve higher status. In Weber’s understanding, roles in social hierarchy are clearly defined which are fulfilled by selected individuals if their merits are considered as qualified to move up the hierarchy. Thus, everyone can change their hierarchy by taking life chances.
Class, Status and Power
Another main distinction between the two writers is that Weber denies the inevitability of class conflicts and Marxist view on class is a primary source of differentiation in society. Instead, Weber stated “classes” and “status groups” are significant factors that influence the distribution of power within a society. (Gerth and Mills 1948: 181)
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