Theories of Inequality (Sociologist Names + Description of)

Made for A2 OCR Sociology 'Stratification' module.

Simply a list of relevant Sociologists with a breif description of their theory for revision purposes :)

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  • Created on: 23-04-09 12:58
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Theories of Inequality
Durkheim ­ Strat is functional and beneficial to society and prevents people without
the abilities to become a doctor, becoming a doctor and this avoids disappointment.
Occupations are graded in terms of their importance to society ­ those which are more
functional receive higher rewards for the individual's efforts.
Parsons ­ Strat is a ranking system based on moral evaluation (social
approval/disapproval, prestige, honour, respect). Stratification is a general agreement
in society about which roles are ranked more important in terms of their functional
Davis & Moore ­ Higher rewards for most functional roles allows everyone to compete
for it and that way society is able to pick the most able. Most people agree with
stratification as they accept the meritocratic principles on which society is based.
New Right/Market Liberal
Saunders (1996) ­ Social Strat is a small price to pay due to the benefit of all of society
becoming more prosperous
Hayek (1960) ­ Capitalism is a system which continues to raise everyone's standards of
living. Many of the consumer items available today would not be available if society had
not allowed individuals to earn large amount of money if they took risks as the
motivation to take such risks would be low
Marx ­ Driving force in all societies is the economic struggle between rich and poor. The
rich want to pay the poor the least amount of work and vice versa. The rich Bourgeoisie
own the means of production and are able to control the social relations of production
and this means the poor Proletariat have to work for the rich Bourg. and sell their ability
to work in order to survive. The Proletariat rarely see themselves as exploited due to
being duped by ideological apparatuses such as Education in to believing capitalism is
fair (the working class are suffering from `false class consciousness')
Neo Marxism
Bourdieu ­ The cultural capital (and material, or economic capital, advantages such as
being able to afford a private education) of children in the upper/middle classes ensure
that class inequality is reproduced. This disadvantage legitimises the failure of the
working class as they blame themselves for their `failure' instead of challenging
Althusser ­ Education transmits the ideology of meritocracy but those born in to middle
class/ruling class backgrounds are more likely to achieve within education due to both
the academic and hidden curriculum being products of Bourgeoisie values.

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Weber ­ Rejects the notion that economic power creates class inequality within
society. Argues `class' (economic relationships) and `status' (perceived social standing
­ can also come from religion, gender, ethnicity) are both equally important sources of
power which influence the life chances of individuals. Economic relationships are
determined by occupational skill because this creates different opportunities, income,
lifestyle etc. e.g.…read more


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