Social Inequality, difference and stratification


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Social inequality, differences and
Social Class
Social Class is the stratification system found in modern industrial societies i.e.
Different from previous systems:
They are not based on religion, law or race but on economic position
There is no clear distinction between the classes.
All groups have the same equal rights
No legal restrictions on marriage between classes.
Open society
Meritocratic system
Why we need to measure social class
Sociologists, Governments and advertisers, are all operationalizing the concept of
social class because:
Sociologists want to address class differences and why there are
Advertisers target social groups to maximise sales
Governments need to form social policies in order to address
Scales of Social Class
The registrar General's Scale.
Used from 1911-2000 based on ranking jobs into 6 classes:
Class 1: Professional
Class 2: Lower management, professionals and technical
Class 3NM: Skilled non-manual workers

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Class 3M: Skilled manual
Class 4: Semi-skilled manual
Class 5: Unskilled manual
Middle Class= Class 1-3M
Working Class=Class 4-5
This has been used for many surveys etc
Criticisms of the Registrar General's Scale
Assessment of jobs were made by the Registrar General's Staff (meaning
they would put their own jobs higher) (bias)
Ignored unemployed and people who had enough money not to work
Scale was sexist (a woman would be placed according to her Husband or
Fathers Job)
It glossed over the fact that workers…read more

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More accurate system, but was still sexist:
Overlooks the significance of the dual-career families, where the joint
income of both partners can improve lifestyle.
Ignores situations where woman are in a higher grade of work
Overlook the significance of the increasing number of single working
woman, and single working parents, who are classified according to the
occupation of their ex-partners or fathers.…read more

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No manual: Non Manual split.
Includes long term unemployed and the never-employed unemployed
Woman are recognised in this scale.
Potential weaknesses
Based on objective criteria of class, does not include people's own
interpretation of what class they belong to
Those who do not work because they are wealthy are not included.
Some critics have suggested that ethnicity and gender may be more
important in bringing about social divisions and shaping identity.…read more

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Savage et al. 2001
o Not convinced that identification with such class categories has any
real meaning beyond the need to feel normal and original.
Bradley 1999
o Agrees with Savage.…read more


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