SCLY4 Stratification and Differentiation Past Questions (With Items)

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January 2010

Using the material from Item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of recent changes in the class structure of industrial societies. (21m)

Item A
"In the last half-century or so, there have been some significant changes in the class structure of the industrial societies of Europe and North America. For example, there has been a shift from manual to non-manual work, with a notable decline in the proportion of people employed in skilled and semi-skilled manual jobs, especially in the manufacturing industry. At the same time, the number of professional, managerial and clerical workers has increased, although there are signs that the expansion of this sector is now slowing down. There has also been a rise in the number of part-time workers and of people in insecure employment, such as 'temps' and casual workers. Many sociologists see these changes in the class structure of the industrial societies as closely linked to globalisation and related processes."

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June 2010

Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the value of the functionalist theory of stratification in understanding social inequality. (21m)

Item B
"According to the functionalist theory of stratification, social inequality is an inevitable feature of human society. As evidence for this claim, functionalists point to the fact that, in one form or another, inequality is found in all known societies, from the simplest to the most complex. Functionalist theory also argues that inequality is beneficial to society and its members. All societies have a shared value system that places a higher value on some roles than others because they are functionally more important. In order to fill these roles with the right peopole, society offers higher rewards to the occupants of these roles. However, some sociologists argue that 'functional importance' is impossible to determine objectively and that functionalist theory is logically circular."

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January 2011

Using material from Item C and elsewhere, assess the view that social class should not be measured by occupation alone (21m)

Item C
"The complex nature of social class makes it a difficult term to define. This problem of definition is linked to differencesw in the way social class is measures. Governments use occupation to measure officially an individual's social class. This way of measuring is also used by some sociologists. Similarly, individuals use occupation to identify their own and other people's social class. However, their subjective view may differ from the official view. Changes to work and the nature of employment can affect the status of occupations. However, these changes in status may not always lead to adjustments in the way government's measure social class. Similarly, changes in the official classification of occupations are not always reflected in the way people see social class subjectively."

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June 2011

Using material from Item D and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of gender differences in life chances (21m)

Item D
"Women now have equal rights in many areas of social life, including education and employment. In fact girls now outperform boys in education, across all social classes and ethnicities, gaining a greater number of GCSE grades A* to C. This increase in educational achievement has been matched by an increase in women entering the workforce. In 2000, around 45% of women were in paid employment, as compared with around 55% of men. Despite these improvements, feminist sociologists argue that women still experience different life chances in comparison with men. In work, women are often more likely to be in lower-paid and part-time employment. Breaks in careers due to childbirth further add to women's disadvantage in employment."

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January 2012

Using material from Item E and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of Marxist theories of stratification in understanding social class in society today (21m)

Item E
"Marxist theories of stratification are derived from the concept of conflict between classes. Conflict in capitalist society arises from the exploitation of the working class by capitalist class. This relationship is perpetuated by the ability of the capitalists to maintain their own position. As the owners of the means of production, they hold the power to make decisions that affect employment. They are able to keep the working class poor by controlling their wages. Other sociologists disagree with the Marxist view and see inequality as necessary and inevitable in society."

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January 2012

Using material from Item F and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of social difference and inequalities between age groups. (21m)

Item F
"The population of the United Kingdom is ageing. Between 1984 and 2009 the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15% to 16%, an increase of 1.7 million people. The greatest increase has been in the number of those ages 85 and over, the "oldest old". Over the same period, the perceantage of the population aged 16 and under decreased from 21% to 19%. Age is a key factor in determining the way we see ourselves and also how others see us. Additionally, age is an important factor in determining an individual's life chances. Different age groups have different access to power and status."

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June 2012

Using material from Item G and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of different ways of defining and measuring social class (21m)

Item G
"Social class is a complex concept with many different and sometimes conflicting definitions. The definition used will determine the way social class is measured. Occupation is sometimes used as an indicator of social claqss. For example, official classifications of social class are often based on occupation. However, an individual's own definition of their social class may not be the same as that of offical bodies, or those used by sociologists."

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June 2012

Using material from Item H and elsewhere, assess the view that ethnicity is the most important factor in determining an individual's life chances. (21m)

Item H
"Being a member of a particular ethnic group can mean that an individual experiences different life chances. For example, official statistics show that educational achievement and patterns of employment vary greatly between different ethnic groups. Such differences in life chances can often lead to a member of minority ethnic groups feeling excluded from society. Furthermore, people may hold stereotypical views about certain minority ethnic groups" 

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January 2013

Using material from Item I and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of feminist theories of stratification for understanding gender inequality (21m)

Item I
"Feminist theories of stratification focus on gender inequalities in society. Feminism developed as a response to the limited attention given to gender issues by other sociological perspectives and studies. Although different branches of feminism take differing approaches to gender inequality and straitification, all agree that society is patriarchal. The life chances and experiences of men and women are very different. Socialisation and social norms serve to perpetuate this inequality. Other socioloists disagree with the feminist view and see other factors as more important for understanding inequality in society."

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January 2013

Using material from Item J and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations for changes in the class structure in the UK in the past 40 years or so (21m)

Item J
"The class structure of the UK has seen a number of changes in recent decades. The decline of heavy industry and the rise in service sector employment have changed the labour market and, with it, the class structure. Higher standards of living have also lead to the growth of leisure industries and therefore a rise in employment in this sector. This has led to a decline in the size of the working class and a growth in the middle class. These changes in the class structure contradict Marx's prediction that the middle class would shrink"

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June 2013

Using material from Item K and elsewhere, assess the view that stereotyping and discrimination are the main factors determining an individual's life chances (21m)

Item K
"An individual's life chances depend on a wide range of factors. These same factors may determine whether or not the individual is likely to be stereotypes. Our opinion of others is often based on the stereotypes we have about particular groups of people. These streotypes may be positive or negative and can lead to discrimination.
The disadvantages suffered by some groups in society have led to a range of laws and policies. The Equality Act 2010 aims to simplify and strengthen existing legislation, by providing a new anti-discrimination law to protect individuals from unfair treatment and to promote a fairer and more equal society."

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June 2013

Using material from Item L and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of changes in social mobility over the past 30 years or so (21m)

Item L
"The study of social mobility can tell sociologists a great deal about a society. Social mobility can take different forms and can involve individuals or groups. Social mobitlity may be upward or downward. For example, high levels of upward mobility might indicate a successful economy or a meritocratic system. 
Studies conducted in the UK over the past 30 years or so show that rates of upward social mobility have declined. This is illustrated by statistics on the social background of university graduates. The patterns of social mobility are different for men and women and also for those from minority ethnic groups."

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January 2014

Using material from Item M and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to our understanding of stratification (21m)

Item M
"Most sociological perspectives agree that stratification exists in society. However, these perspectives disagree about the basis of stratification.
Functionalists see stratification as an inevitable part of society. Society offers greater rewards to those who occupy higher social positions. This encourages members of society to work to the best of their ability. Those with greater ability will rise to higher positions than those without that ability. Functionalists agree that this system is accepted by all members of society. Other sociologists disagree and argue that different factors determine an individual's social position"

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June 2014

Using material from Item N and elsewhere, assess the relative importance of class, status and power in understanding social stratification (21m)

Item N
"Many factors determine an individual's social position. One key factor is class. Class if often measured by an individual's occupation, which links to income and working conditions. Class can be a key indicator in determining life chances. Weberian theory looks at more than class to understand social stratification. Weber thought that stratification also involved power and status, which is associated with social importance. These two factors also influence life chances but may not match with an individual's class position"

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June 2015

Using material from Item O and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of Marxist theories to our understanding of stratification (21m)

Item O
"Marxists see stratification as based on the economic system. In a capitalist system those who own the means of production are able to exploit those who work for them. This relationship is kept going by the ability of owners to maintain their position. However, while all sociologists agree that stratification exsists in modern society, they disagree about the basis of stratification."

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June 2015

Using material from Item Q and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of gender differences in life chances (21m)

Item Q
"Over the past 40 years there has been a rise in the percentage of women and a fall in the percentage of men who are in employment. Nevertheless, men are still more likely than women to be in pard work. Furthermore, women are far more likely than men to be in part-time employment. For example, in 2013, 42% of female workers worked part-time, compared with only 12% of male workers. Men are more likely than women to work in professional occupations associated with higher levels of pay. Women dominate employment in caring and leisure occupations." 

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