Marxist explanations of age inequality

  • Created by: MelMel
  • Created on: 21-10-19 17:55
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  • Marxist explanations of age inequality
    • Reserve army of labour (Castles and Kosack)
      • Young and old people are used to fill in the gaps on the job market during boom times
      • State benefits (e.g. full levels of income support) are withheld until young people reach 25
        • Powerful law makers in society see youth as less equal
      • Gig economy employs mainly 16-30 year olds; insecure work
      • Criticisms
        • Postmodernists (Featherstone and Hepworth)- plenty of older people now enjoy status (e.g. Nelson Mandela) and are casting off the mask of the old
          • The lines between different age groups are starting to blur
    • Scapegoating (Castles and Kosack)
      • Frustration and aggression in society leads to people picking on vulnerable groups
      • The youth and the elderly are used as scapegoats
        • Older people are blamed for welfare provision, NHS bed shortages, being too needy and being a drain on society
          • It is actually the bourgeoisie taking this as surplus value
      • This protects those in power from direct criticism
      • Ageism helps justify low pay and poor working conditions as youth and elderly are seen as second class workers
      • Criticisms
        • Marxists-cannot prove that ageism as a product of the bourgeoisie
        • Functionalists- the burden of older people reflects on the value consensus (we agree that they are a burden)
        • Gannon (Feminists)- older women are doubly disadvantaged because they suffer more inequality due decline in their reproductive abilities and their labouring abilities
    • Capitalist exploitation (Marx)
      • Unless inherited, young people have yet to accumulate any power in the labour market
        • Usually work low paid jobs with zero hours contracts where they are exploited
      • By controlling the superstructure, the bourgeoisie lead us into false class conciousness
      • Young people are portrayed as less worthy, thus a minimum wage is justifiable and accepted (hegemony)
      • Criticisms
        • Weber- Marxists ignore the fundamental differences between workers based on power and market situation
        • Functionalists- young people deserve lower wages due to lack of skills and experience (meritocracy and role allocation)
    • Cultural capital (Bourdieu)
      • A particular age group may have the dominant culture, thus disadvantaging other age groups
      • Older people are more likely to be in positions of power due to cultural knowledge which may be dominant
      • When trying to impress an employer, it is more valuable to align oneself with their cultural values rather than being valued for your own culture
        • Youth culture may be less valuable in many workplaces
      • Criticisms
        • Berry- digital divide has disadvantaged older people
          • They lack skills and physical ailments in order to be able to engage in the digital world
            • They have reduced opportunities of developing their social, cultural and economic capital


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