The Sociological Explanations for Class Inequality

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The Sociological Explanations for Class Inequality There is much debate in sociology about whether class is still important. Many argue that class is no longer important as an individual's identity and life chances are based more status and cultural factors such as lifestyle, values, intelligence, education and the like, the post-modernists state that class has ceased to be the prime determinant of identity and suggest that societies are now organised around consumption rather than production, consequently people now identify themselves in terms of what they consume rather than in terms of social-class position. Class identity has therefore fragmented into numerous separate and individualised identities. Others argue that class is still a central influence on people's lives, that it affects their life chances (health, education, voting, social mobility etc.), they argue that class inequality exists and that such inequalities are widening rather than narrowing. Early theories such as Functionalist theory argue that inequality is functional for society since it makes sure that those who show the most potential talent are encouraged to develop this talent through higher education and training, with the promise of higher incomes when they qualify (deferred gratification). They state that in order for society to function properly, society must make sure that people fully use their talents. Inequalities stem from the fact that society values different roles in different ways, based on the shared norms and values of a society. Davis and Moore argue that inequality is inevitable in modern society because people need to be put into diffe... ... middle of paper ... ... however it is interesting to note that there are still less working class children entering university than those from a middle class background. The Weberian theory argues that class and status are interlinked, that it is possible to have wealth without status which seems to apply to the society in which we live in today. The Marxist view of class inequality does not seem to apply to today's society, with many people today being part of the middle class, there is no explanation for this in Marx's theory, and he does not account for the growth of the service sector, an industry which is expanding in the contemporary UK. There are many explanations for class inequality which show that although class is not as important as it has been in previous times, it still plays an important part in the lives of individuals today.
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