Class Inequality Studies

Revision cards for class inequality studies

HideShow resource information

Theories of Class Inequality


Davis and Moore (1945) suggest pay is related to talent, most important jobs are secured by most able individuals, who are paid appropriately high wages

Functionalism Criticism

Tumin (1963) raises questions about what is meant by 'functionally important' roles within a social system


Braverman (1974) middle class will either rise or fall, most will fall into proletariat as their jobs become deskilled

Neo Marxist

Wright (1997) argues that the middle classes are permanent feature of social structure occupying a contradictory class position. Both the exploiters and exploited

1 of 5

Explanations of Class Inequality Cont.


Goldthorpe and Heath (1992) suggested that society could be divided into 3 main social groups


Pakulski and Waters (1996) formulate the argument that class is dead, profound social changes such as globalisation means that class divisions are now essentially status divisions

Postmodern Criticisms

Savage (2001) class is important, traditional theories no longer apply.

2 of 5

Changing Class Structure

Payne (2006) argue UK has moved away from traditional 3 tier structure

Pakulski and Waters (1996) argue although social inequalities remain, concept of social class is no longer relevant in contemporary society

Upper Class

Scott (1991) argues UK still had a ruling class but has changes and is divided into a number of fractions

Goldthorpe et al (1980) argue 'old rich' who gain status from property are so insignificant in numbers that they should not be considered a category in their own right, upper class has changed and it's power and prestige diluted

Middle Class

Devine (2005) carried out 50 unstructured interviews with samples of doctors and teachers focusing on social divisions, both would be considered middle class yet neither referred to concept of class. Devine suggests that they felt uneasy using label of class as they feared being perceived as superior than others.

3 of 5

Changing Class Structure Cont.

Future Foudation (2006) carried out study focusing on class membership in UK respondents asked 'which social class do you belong to?' 43% Middle, 53% working, 1% upper

Working Class

Embourgeoisement Theory

Goldthorpe (1968) tried to find out whether a new different worker had emerged in the UK although there was evidence of an emerging affluent worker who maybe part of a changing working class

Proleterianisation Theory

Braverman (1974) who argues that many jobs in capitalist economy where subject to a process of 'deskilling' where specialist knowledge becomes replaced by machines and automation


Field (1989) suggests consists of 3 main groups, long term unemployed, single parent families and elderly pensioners.

4 of 5

Explanations of Changing Class Structure

Blaming the Victim

Murray (1984) members of the underclass are seen as victims of their distinctive cultural values, Murray directs blame to misguided government who provide too many benefits for the underclass, encouraging dependency allows them to continue their unattractive and unproductive lifestyle.

Blaming Society

Dahrendorf (1987) places most of the blame on structured factors, especially large scale unemployment and economic recession.

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Social stratification and inequality resources »