Gender inequality: functionalism

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  • Gender inequality: functionalism
    • Natural gender roles (Parsons)
      • Men and women naturally serve different roles e.g instrumental and expressive
      • These are innate and ascribed at birth
    • Human capital theory
      • Men have more human capital than women; they have greater commitment, more experience and undertake more training
      • Therefore, it is unsurprising that women will be paid less, receive less training and have less chance of promotion
    • Inequality in inevitable and important
      • In complex societies, inequality is inevitable and important to maintain social order - (Durkheim)
      • Society must be hierarchical to accomplish order and ranking; both of these being key to a healthy functional society - (Parsons)
      • Since we live in a meritocracy, inequalities must exist, as the people who have worked hardest will have a better quality of life than those at the bottom of the meritocracy
    • Evaluation
      • Is society actually harmonious?
      • Some groups e.g men start with more power and status and are therefore able to ensure they and their children get access to the education that means they get higher status job
        • thus, is there a meritocracy?
      • Oakley: gender roles aren't naturally assigned, they are socially constructed
      • Human capital theory ignored structural constraints in society which disadvantage women


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