Social Inequality - Postmodernism

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Outline and assess Postmodernist explanations of social inequality [40]
Bradley ­ new identities are created through globalisation; in this postmodern
society we are now exposed to a range of new cultures and identities and we can
now develop our own identity using a variety of different cultures around the world
Pakulski & Waters ­ they believe that class is passé; it is dead and no longer
fashionable, and people no longer feel as though this is their main source of identity
This may be due to globalisation in which people do not feel restricted by their social
There is empirical evidence that class is losing its significance; due to the deskilling of
white collar jobs and the lack of manual labour, the line between rich and poor is
declining and people no longer have to work in a job which is stereotypical of their
Changing Identities
Baudrillard ­ coined the term 'pick n mix identity'; postmodernist societies are
characterised by the consumption of media created desires. We no longer feel
restrained to fulfill specific identities because of class, ethnicity or gender alone
Baudrillard believes we can pick and choose our own identities, as well as matching
the diversity we see in society due to globalisation, therefore drawing identities from
across the globe
Modood ­ believes in the UK there is now 'super-diversity' as a result of the different
ethnic groups and the cultures which came with them; people are influenced by this
and as a result can pick and mix their identities in relation to the different cultures
they see and experience
There are contemporary examples of this super-diversity, for example the term
'wigger' is used to describe white youths who adopt black cultural habits, for
example listening to rap music and adopting black street styles
However, Baudrillard's ideas assume that everyone has the free will to create their
own identities and make decisions, however people can still be restricted by factors
such as poverty, money and gender
Media and Identity

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Baudrillard ­ believes the mass media is so shaped into our post-modern lives that it
begins to shape the way we live; it is so saturated with media imagery
He coined the term 'hyper-reality' to describe the media's depiction of the real world
which in no way reflects the true images and scenes in the world ­ however these
are the images which are seen all over the world and show people 'what is
He gives the example of war; the media's depiction is…read more

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Postmodernism paint the idea of consuming as a positive outlook for people to have
to enhance their image and identity, however there are major implications on those
in non-Western countries who are making the items which people want to consume
­ the sweat shops people are forced to work in are of poor quality, long hours and
low pay, however due to the hyper-real media which Baudrillard notes, people have
become desensitized to the reality of where their products come from
>…read more

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Outline and assess Postmodernist explanations of class inequality [40]
Pakulski & Waters ­ Class is dead
Like beards and berets, they argue that 'class is passé'; it is no longer fashionable
They believe there is empirical evidence that class is losing its significance
Classes only exist if there is a 'minimum level of clustering or groupness', and such
groups or clusters no longer exist; people no longer feel as though they belong to
class groupings
They do not…read more

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His ideas differ from other post-modernists; he believes class is far from dying and
instead class differences became stronger in the 20 century
People's circumstances in life are set by their unequal places in the economic order,
and so the class structure has recently hardened in Britain
The power of the higher social classes and businesses has been growing; the public
sector is slowly becoming more controlled by the hands of private businesses
He does believe there ire important divisions and inequalities than class,…read more

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Outline and assess Postmodernist explanations of ethnic inequality [40]
Hall argues that 'new ethnicities' are being developed which are partly a result of
The norm for individuals in postmodern societies is to have complex multiple
identities which are constantly shifting and being contested
People can choose their own individual identity from a range of ethnicity's cultures
which they have been exposed to due to globalisation
The Notting Hill carnival takes place in London annually as a celebration…read more

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Differences concerning individualism explain why some ethnicities experience higher
levels of family breakdown than others
Old fashioned values can cause disadvantage among some individuals from a
particular ethnicity, and this shows the inequality between different ethnicities in
This is due to individual choice and does not explain the impact of society or agents
of socialisation e.g.…read more

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Outline and assess Postmodernist explanations of age inequality [40]
Featherstone & Hepworth - de-differentiation/de-institutionalisation
They believe that, in contemporary societies, the life course has begun to
deconstruct; instead, two different processes have taken place:
De-differentiation ­ this is the process whereby different stages of the life course
become less apparent and clear
De-institutionalisation ­ this refers to when institutions become less associated and
interested in maintaining the different stages of the life course
They believe there are constant messages…read more

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Blaikie ­ consumer culture
Argues that consumer culture is responsible for changing stereotypes, these began
when Margaret Thatcher was in power as she encouraged consumerism
Marketing companies recognised the buying power for the larger numbers of the
elderly in an ageing society
Products aimed at maintaining youth and rejuvenation are endorsed by celebrities
who appear to have already done so, for example Mick Jagger
Magazines are appearing which emphasise the joys of retirement and the choices
that are involved; there are more images of older…read more

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Outline and assess Postmodernist explanations of gender inequality [40]
Hakim (preference theory)
She conducted two studies, in Britain and Spain and found the same results
She concluded that women have more choice than ever within society
Women can choose to be home centred, work centred, or adaptive, balancing both
This is due to many factors, such as;
o The contraceptive revolution, allowing women control over their fertility
o The equal opportunities revolution, giving women access to all positions
o…read more


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