Marxist Theories Of Class Inequality

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Social class is a system of stratification whereby groups of people share a similar social position in terms of occupation, income, ownership and wealth. Social class is also closely related to levels of education, status and lifestyle (including housing, car ownership and leisure activities) as well as power and influence. Class inequalities can arise due to social class. Class inequality is the existence of unequal opportunities and rewards for different social classes, in particular working class disadvantage and upper class privilege. Marxism is a theoretical perspective based on the ideas of Marx (1818 - 1883) who identified two key groups in capitalist society - the Bourgeoisie who own and control the means of production and the Proletariat who have the ability to produce goods and services. Marx believed that the Bourgeoisie exploited the Proletariat in order to gain surplus value and profit. However, Marxist explanations of class inequality in the contemporary UK can be criticised by Functionalists who believe that society is meritocratic, Weberians who believe that classes in society are too fragmented to be polarising, New Right thinkers who also believe that society is meritocratic, hence the middle class experience social mobility and Postmodernists who believe it is style and taste that have the most significance in a classless society. The traditional Marxist explanation of class inequality in the contemporary UK is based on Marx. Marx saw society as a structure divided into two major parts - the first and most important structure is the economic base referred to as the infrastructure. The second major part consists of the rest of society, such as political, legal and education systems, beliefs and ideas. This part ... ... middle of paper ... ...ecialist tasks and so their pay levels are also threatened as they are unable to control the supply of labour into their profession. This creates a reserve army of labour which is always there to step into their jobs. However, this Neo-Marxist view developed by Braverman can be criticised because this view ignores the growing middle class. People now have a better standard of living, there are more homeowners and more people can afford private healthcare and education as they are part of the growing middle class. This view also assumes that deskilling jobs rules out reskilling or upskilling and Gallie (1994) argued that there is upskilling in the information age. Machines are replaced by computer but there is a need of training in new developments. The Future Foundation (2006) also believe that by 2020 everyone will be middle class both subjectively and objectively.
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