Sociology A2 Social Inequality and Difference

Revision cards for the entire topic, enjoy :)


Social Inequality and Difference (1)

-Social Differences: may be based on material factors (wealth, income) or cultural factors (ethnicity), and these differences may lead to social inequality, social differences might also be based on gender, age, religion, sexual orientation or class, and social inequalities might occur as a result of these differences

-However social differences do not necessarily lead to social inequalities, as shown in MacDonald and Marsh's (2005) study which found that when young men and women experienced unemployment, gender difference for men was not a factor, but it was for women who when employment earned on average less than men (gender pay gap) and cannot gain a promotion as easily as men (vertical segregation)

-Social inequalities: based on the extent to which individuals/groups have more or less power, status, wealth and income. These are unequally distributed in society over gender, ethnicity, age and class over 8 key areas; work, education, crime, media, politics, health and housing

-Inequalities can lead to poverty, which may lead to futher inequalities linked to a decrease in an individuals Life Chances, this is the extent to which individuals are able to access resources seen as desirable in society such as health care/ housing/ education/ employment, these are affected by social differences, e.g when unemployment is rising the competition for jobs increases and some groups are more likley to be excluded, and this leads to social inequalities

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Social Inequality and Difference (2)

-Payne (2006): argues some groups have more power than others, gives them a social advantage, and this is then related to their unequal share of material resources, and social inequality is also important; if people have less power, status and wealth than other they may not be able to fully participate in society, and may feel excluded from things the majority take for granted

-Cooke & Oppenheim (2008): claim that the UK remains one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, as despite a recent narrowing of the gap between rich and poor (especially if the super-rich/underclass are ignored) it poses the question of whether the British public really want to eradicate inequality, and the extent to which they are prepared to support measures to reduce it

-Institute for Fiscal Studies (2009): found that while inequality rose very steeply between 1979-1991, it has been up and down since in the last 20 years

-The Hills Report (2010): points out the richest 1% of the population are now recieiving more of the total income available in the UK than they were in the 1970s

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Social Inequality and Difference (3)

Social mobility:

-Movement of individuals or groups in the social position (usually from one class to another)

-Education has been seen as the route for the working class to move into the middle class

-The Higher Education Funding Council for England (2010): points out the numbers of poorer childern entering higher education rose between 1994-2009, and this led to some social upward mobility

-Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (2010): demonstrates that there is a strong correlation between fathers who have degrees and the wage level of their children

-Williams (2010): suggests that these working class children may pass on this advanatge to their children, however number of poorer children entering higher education may change as fees rise, as they may be more reluctant to pay given the uncertainty of the labour market and postgraduate employment rates

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Measuring Social Class (1)

-Sociologists have different views on who should be where in the class structure, Marxists argue that the ownership of the means of production determines class, whilst Weberians argue that power and status must also be taken into account

-Many different groups want to find this out: Sociologists (compare findings/make claims regarding reliability/validity or identify patterns/trends), Governments (want to develop social policies on for example number of WC students entering Uni), Advertisers and Industry (want to identify areas where they should target goods and services,sales of luxury goods likley to be higher in areas dominated by higher social classes)

-Higher Education Statistics Agency (HSEA, 2010) found that in 2008/9 the number of students from routine/manul backgrounds at Cambridge (12%) and Oxford (11%) compared to other Unis like Bolton (52%) and Greenwich (55%), shows some clear class inequality in that certain WC students are unable to access the echelons of higher education

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Measuring Social Class (2)

Registrar General classification scheme:

-In 1911 the RG devised a classification scheme based on occupation, which was used until 2000, provided a useful means of differentiating between the WC and MC, devising social policies particuarly those relating to health and education, provides sociologists with a consistent measure to use as basis for their research, occupation often indicates who a person/household mixes with, these shared experiences/identitiy/status makes it a useful measure of social class, it can indiciate educational qualifications/income/lifestyle/cultural capital

-RG Scale omits: unemployed/never-employed, women who did not have a paid job outside their home, single mother who worked, the very wealthy who lived off the income from their wealth

-RG criticisms: grouped together occupations without differentiating between lifestyles of people from different occupations in the same class, based on the assumption that male was the head of the household, took no account of rising unemployment/increased participation of women in the labour market and it largely ignores the self-employed

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Measuring Social Class (3)

The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC):

-NS-SEC developed by Weberian sociologists took place in the 2001 census, took account of status and power as well as occupation and pay hours/education/housing/income/occupational level, NS-SEC deals with some feminist issues, head of income now based on highest income earner, and if it is dual highest income than the oldest person is the head of the household

-Evaluation of the NS-SEC:

1. Based on occupation does not account for very wealthy/those who don't work, however does include those who are unemployed and want to work

2. Based partly on educational qualifications, as while skilled trade operatives get paid more than administative staff the latter have the higher social class because of their qualifications

3. Doesn't account of how class is lived, people are grouped who do not share the same lifestyle

4. Doesn't account for how people view themselves, often take education/housing into account

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Gender (1)

Female advantage/male disadvantage: Health

1. Department of Health (2010): been found that women have a longer life expectancy than that of men with 82 years compared to 78 years

2. Health Statistics Quartely (2007): Found that women were less likley to die than men of Ischaemic heart diseases (female 14% of deaths to males 19%), Chronic lower respiratory diseases (4.7% to 5.4%) and Malignant neoplasm of the trachea/bronchus/lungs (4.7% to 7%)


-Waldron (1983) suggests women are more resistant to certain diseases (personally citing heart disease) due to their genetic make-up and biological factors of being a female

-Lyng (1990) suggests man are more likley to take part in risky behaviour that could lead to injury or death because society encourage younger males to engage in more edgework (risky behaviour) and so may suffer from health problems because of this

-Artefact explanations suggest they do not actually suffer from more health problems than men like certain stats suggest, but because of gender-specific issues like pregnancy, this means that they not suffer as many health problems 

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Gender (2)

Female advantage/male disadvantage: Crime

1. Ministry of Justice (2012): Women are treated differently compared to men by the criminal justice system, as women only accounted for 5% of the prison population between 2007-2011, and fewer than 1/5 arressts between 2007-2011 involved females in any way

2. Youth Lifestyle Foundation (2000): found that only 1/11 of self-reported offences by women concerned drugs resulted in a caution/prosecution, whereas for men this was 1 in 7 self-reported offences


-"Chivalry Thesis" put foward by Pollak (1950), who argues that because the CJS is made up of men they are more likley to treat women leniently

-More recent sociology by feminist Heidensohn (2002) put foward the Control Theory, arguing that the social roles of women are strongly controlled by the patriarchal society they live in through areas of life like the family or the workplace, and therefore crime statistics are an accurate reflection of female crime because they genuinly commit less crime than men

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Gender (3)

Female advantages/male disadvantage: Education

1. Gender and education: the evidence on pupils in England (2007): found that 63% of girls attained 5 A*-C grades at GCSE compared with 53% of boys (10% gap), and also that girls are slightly more likley to go onto do A-levels, making up 54% of 6-form groups in 2006


-Mitsos and Browne (1998) argued that the women's movement and feminism have raised the expectations and self-esteem of women, and they are therefore likley to achieve more than boys

-Increase in service-sector and part-time work has opened up employment oppurtunities for women, and there is now more incentive for women to gain educational qualifications, Francis and Skelton (2005) found many girls now aspired to jobs which required degrees

-Jackson (2006) found that schools were dominated by a culture of hegemonic masculinity that valued toughness/power/competitiveness, and academic work was defined as too feminine to be seen as "cool" by the boys, and this "laddish masculinity" is possible one explanation why girls outdo boys in academic achievement

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Gender (4)

Female disadvantage/male advantage: Workplace

1. Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009): found that women working in the financial sector full-time earn 55% less annual average gross salary than their male counterparts

2. ONS (2012): Found that women form around 45% of the workforce, but 40% of them work in part-time jobs compared to only 11% of men, and Government Statistics (2014): rate of unemployment is rising faster for women than men, reaching 1.12 million in 2014


-Horizontal segregation: extent to which men and women are employed in different occupational groups, Women and Work Commission (2006) found there are approxiamtely 77 occupational groups which women are disproportionately clustered in the  "5 c's", including cleaning and casheiring, and characterised by low pay, low job-security and low status

-Vertical segregation: extent to which men and women are at different levels in occupations or in the labour market generally,"leaky pipeline" (gradual loss of women in higher levels) because of "glass ceiling" and "concrete ceiling" prevents women rising too high

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Gender (5)

Female disadvantage/male advantage: Home

1.Dunscombe and Marden (1995) found that women were expected to take on roles of housework, emotion work and labour market work as part of a "triple shift", and ONS (2012) found that out of 2 million single parents in England as of 2012, 59% of them are in work and have to frequently partake in this triple-shift

2. Carers UK (2007): found many women in their 50s undertook a role of "dual caring", in which they look after both their children and their elderly family relatives, women are more likley to experience stress from this additional work


-Increase in ageing population has been well documented by sociologists,17% of the population are over 65 years old (ONS, 2012) and this will have a number of effects like this

-Issue of women working all the time and this leading to inequality was supported by Seagar (1997) who through the use of time diaries found that while men spent more time at work then women, they still had more leisure and rest time than women

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Gender (6)

Female disadvantage/male advantage: Media

1. Smith (2013): Found that women were four times as likley as men to be portrayed wearing **** attire in film and television, and for every one women who works behind the scenes of media as a producer or camera operator there were around 5 men in a similar role outnumbering them

2. Eating disorder: body image and advertising (2008): Also found that the way women were portrayed as models in women magazines had a negative impact on actual women, 69% claiming that these models influenced their idea of the perfect body shape, and that this could lead to serious health issues like dieting, anxiety and bulimia


-Feminists such as Heidensohn and Greer argue that the sexualisation of women in the media is to reinforce ideology of the patriarchy and get women to accept their role in society

-Many sociologists argue that the glass ceiling extends to the media industry, and therefore issues that concern women are ignored/trivialized while more focus is put on the male audience

-McRobbie (1991): magazines reinforce cultural hegemony of women and create gender roles

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Gender (7)

Female disadvantage/male advantage: Crime

1. Walklate (1998): argues in women's adherence to gender norms that is assessed rather than evidence for crime, as women who commit crimes that transgress gender roles (child murder) will be more severly punished as they breaking traditional expectations of maternal roles

2. Carlen (1997): Study of Scottish courts that women are more likely to be sentenced based on how good wives/mothers/daughters they are than the seriousness of their crimes


-Stewart (2006) found that magistrates perceptions of female defendents character was based on stereotypical gender roles which influenced the case, and many feminists attribute this to the fact that the CJS is patriarchal

-Griffiths (1997) supports this by arguing that judges are not influenced by political stances but as conservors of the values/instiutions that the society has been built on, and since historically women have been made to conform to patriarchal ideas about feminisity and domestic service therefore judges will bear these in mind while making a judgement

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Age (1)

Age advantage/disadvantage: Workplace

1. MORI (2002): Found that 1/5 workers experience discrimination in the workplace, and 38% of them said that ageism in the workplace was the reason

2. Age Concern (2005): From age 55 onwards old people suffer from nearly twice as much age prejudice as any other form of discrimination, and 1/3 respondents considered over 70s to be incompetent/incapable at typical tasks in the workplace

3. Institue for Employment studies (2013): found that managers lack of clear chain of command and giving them a telling off over confusing orders led to disillusionment and distancing

4. Low Pay Commision (2009): Most young people lack experience so payed minimum wage, and therefore often gain jobs in lower-payed positions of the labour market


-Ray (2008): prevelant belief "too old to work", employers question competance

-Vincent (2005): Age creates barriers for status/power/wealth/income, link to young people

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Age (2)

Age advantage/disadvantage: Media

1. Youth Justice Team (2011): Found that of 55 articles across the year, 30% portrayed youth a highly negative light, and that 24% of the articles were relating to violent crime in some way

2. Demos (2014): found from interviewing 1000 teens across England and Wales about their portrayal in the media that they were unfairly represented, and 85% claimed that it would affect their chance of getting a job because of the negative stereotypes

3. Signorelli (1989) anaylsed 14,000 TV characters and found that the very old and young were under-represented, older characters less likley to be "good" but also less likley to be involved in violence of any kind


-Pearson (1983): adolescents have long been portrayed as a problem by the media, there has been a long standing myth of a golden age when youth were less troublesome, but there have always been problems with certain groups of youth (Support by Cohen/Fawbert-Moral Panics)

-Margaret Anderson (2008): Media reinforces age stereotypes based on a number of reasons, sociologists possibly speculate medical science (e.g old people suffer decline in later years)

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Age (3)

Age advantage/disadvantage: Health

1. Children from low-income families are more likley to die at birth or go to the child protection register (Howard, 2001) and are 2.5 times more likely to suggest from chronic illness (Milennium Cohort Study, 2008)

2. Health Protection Agency (2011): Found young people made up 63% of chlamydia cases in England and 54% of genital warts, and the NHS (2009) also found that chlamydia rates have doubled from 1999-2008

3. EHRC (2010): Found that the ageing population is creating a new kind of "chronic disadvantage" as many middle aged-couples struggle to care for elderley relatives and children, supported by Grundy and Henrietta (2006) with their concept of the "sandwich generation"

4. Beecham et al (2008): found age discrimination in mental health, as it was largely people aged over 65 which recieved lower cost support packages whenc ompared to younger adults


-Shaw (1999): material factors such as poor working/living conditions lead to illness, and many sociologists attribute the increase of STI's in the 20th-21st liberation of sexuality and young people are expected to have sex

-Greengross (2010): National Health Service has instiutional ageism towards old people as they are the most likley to be denied an operation, she explains this as the NHS has to deal with cost budgets and so not all groups can be equal, given a criteria and the poor health that characterises old age means the young take precedence and inequality happens

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Age (4)

Age adavantage/disadvantage: Crime

1. ONS (2012): Found the likelihood of becoming a victim of violent crime decreased with age, with a much higher proportion of adults aged 16-24 reporting they had been a victim (8%) than other age groups, particularly those aged 75 and over (0.2%)

2. Home Office (2010): Found that around 2150,000 crimes of theft and violence took place against under 16s in 2009, and that one in four children is a "victim of crime"

3. CPS (2012): Found volume of cases of hate crime against elderly people had increased from 2008/9 from around 1500 to around 3000 in 2011/12, and victim issues throughout the process has increased for elderly people from 14% to 17%

4. Age UK (2010): Found that over 14.5 million people believed they had been targeted in a scam in 2010, and over half of the over 60s they questioned believed themselves to be part of this number


-Carrabine et al (2000): points to a hierarchy of victimisation: some victims enjoy a higher status than other, in particular the ideal victim is an elderly women or child (vunerable/weak) which explains why criminals will take the oppurtunities presented to them in these circumstances

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Ethnicity (1)

Ethnic advantage/disadvantage: Education

1. Department for education and skills (2005): Found that Indian/Chinese/White/Asian/Irish puils are more likley to gain five or more A*-C GCSEs compared to other ethnic groups like Gypsy/Roma/Black Caribbean and White/black caribbean, which were among the lowest achieving puils at Key Stage 4

2. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2011): Found that at Post-16 Pakastani/Bangledeshi boys achieved the fewest qulifications at this stage, and at Post-18 students from a minority ethnic background are less likely to achieve a higher degree classficiation


-Coard (2005): Argues that the school curriculum is ethnocentric, meaning it is based around one particular cultural viewpoint and ignores others, therefore white history and white literature dominate the curriculum, ethnic minorities cultural is devalued and so they are devalued

-Strand (2008): schools were instutionally racist, found teachers were less likley to enter Afro-Caribbean students for higher tier tests at 14 in Science/Maths and this had a knock-on effect at which GCSE's they were entered for, reason for this was because teacher developed a perception of Afro-Caribbean students as disruptive and so made a judgement on their abilities

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Ethnicity (2)

Ethnic advantage/disadvantage: Workplace

1. Hills Report (2010): Found that Chinese and Indian men earn more than any other ethnic group and are more likley to enter the professions, Bangledeshi men/women are the lowest paid

2. ONS (2014): Found that between 2012-2013 unemployment rates remained constant for white people, whereas it rose for ethnic minority groups, most notably blakc ethnic minorities (16%-17%) and Pakistani/Bangledeshi groups (17%-19%)


-Bhopal (1999): women workers from Pakistani/Bangladeshi backgrounds are sometimes limited by cultural constraints

-Yi Cheung (2006): Suffer from ethnic penalty, disadvantages ethnic minority groups face in the labour market compared with whires of the same age and social capital

-Rex and Tomlinson (1979): argued dual labour market made up of minority ethnic groups in the secondary labour market, largely because of lack of political power uin unions, secondary labour market jobs characterised by low pay/job-security which could explain unemployment rates

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Ethnicity (3)

Ethnic advantages/disadvantages: Crime

1. Ministry of Justice (2010): Increase in all 3 main stop and search powers, 2009/10 increase of 20% of stop and search (section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) compared with 2006/7, and per 1000 of the population Black persons were stopped 7.0 more times than white people in 2009/10 compared to 6.0 times more in 2006/7

2. Prison Population Statistics (2013): Found that the proportion of foreign nationals in prison has increased steadily since 1997, in 1999 accouting for 8% of the total prison population, and in 2013 accouting for 13%, White prisoners making up around 73% and black people making up 13%, which is highly disproportionate compared to other ethnic groups


-MacPherson Inquiry (1999): looked into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the failure of the police to bring the killer to justice, found the metropolitan police to be instutionally racist

-Reiner (2000): "canteen culture", created by them to deal with the pressures of work, defined by macho values and mistrust, as well as encouraging racist stereotyping/not trust those from a white background

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Ethnicity (4)

Ethnic advantages/disadvantages: Health

1. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2013): Found persistent inequalities in the health of Pakistani/Bangladeshi women, their illness rates have been 10% higher than white women consistently in 1991, 2001 and 2011

2. EHRC (2010): Found that African-Caribbean babies were twice as likley to die in the first year of life as Bangladeshi and white babies


-Shaw (1999) argues material factors such as poor working conditions, an inadequate diet and bad living conditions are a major cause of ill health, and she argues other factors like ethnicity (which may lead to being a lower social class through a number of impacts) explains health inequaility suffered by minority ethnic groups in the UK

-Nettleton (1995) suggests genetic differences in race makes certain minority ethnic groups more suceptible to certain diseases, and also argues that material factors are highly important-for example in a study found that minority ethnic women felt their health was affected by isolation, fear of racist attack and poor housing

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Class (1)

Class advantage/disadvantage: Housing and income

1. Hills Report (2010): Found that the household wealth of the top 10% of the population, excluded bankers/chief executives 100 times higher than that of the poorest 10%, and bankers/chief executives included then top 1% possess wealth of £2.6 million+ on average

2. ONS (2010): desmonstrated link to income and housing, as it found that patterns of home ownership are linked to social class; e.g 92% of the social class 1 on the NS-NEC either owned homes outright or with a mortgage, whereas this is around 50% for the working-class and 14% of the long-term unemployed and those who had never worked in social class 8


-Hills Report (2010) also offers explanations, arguing that people's origins have a direct impact on their economic destinations, and these advantages/disadvantages are reinforced from generation-to-generation, so if one person had a poor life this will carry on through their family

-Scott (1997) argues upper class advantaged over other classes and have better life chances because of their use of "property for power", rather than the other classes "property for use", which allows the upper class to consolidate further advantages from lacking the neccessity to live in the homes, and this allows them to rent them out or use the land to create business 

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Class (2)

Class advantage/disadvantage: Education

1. Sutton Trust (2010): Found that 3-year old working-class children were behind in educational development compared to their middle-class peers by 11-16 months difference from the poorest 20% to the richest 20%

2. Association of Colleges (2013): found that only 28% of working class were "learner responsive" out of the 341 colleges that currently exist in England, learner responsive was operationalised as being able to engage with the educational information/tasks, and therefore only 72% of working-class children were able to engage with this


-Hirsh (2006) explained that many working class homes are unable to provide the same support as middle/upper class homes with regard to formal learning, even if they are loving and caring to their children, it is material deprivation that disadvantages different members of different classes

-Bourdieu (1977) argues schools are middle class instiutions which allow the middle-class to convert cultural capital into material rewards and gain economic capital, and this system reproduces the inequalities working-class already suffer from social agents like the family's lack of educational support and means they are unable to engage with the system effectively

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Class (3)

Class advantage/disadvantage: Health

1. Royal College of Nursing (2012): found that social determinants related to class (such as housing/education/financial security) had a direct impact on the health of individuals, and they found that there was a difference in the mortality rate in that people living in the poorer areas of England will die 7 years earlier than those living in the richest areas, and the same study alo found that unskilled workers belonging to the working class were twice as likley to die from cancerous diseases than professional workers in the middle and upper classes

2. Le Grand (1998): working-class housing was typically characterised by being overcrowded, poorly heated and damp which he linked to serious physical/mental health problems


-Marmot (2004) argues class health inequality within society stems from what he terms the "health gradient", in that individuals high up in the hierarchy of clas will have better health than those lower down in the hierarchy

-Shaw (1999) agrees, arguing that material factors such as bad living conditions and an inadequate diet stem from class wealth issues are the major cause of ill health for individuals in the social classes 6,7 and 8 in the NS-SEC

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Class (4)

Class advantage/disadvantage: Crime

1. Dixon et al (2006): Found in their study that poorer households were more likley to be victims of serious intrusive crimes such as mugging/robbery than middle and upper class households, and that poorer households are often more concerned with becoming victims of crime

2. British Crime Survey (2011): Found that vunerable people that are usually part of the lower classes were more likley to suffer from certain crimes than the upper classes, for example young households (8%), unemployed (5%) and single-parents (6%) were twice as likley to be burgled than the average person (2%), and that they substantially worried more about being a victim of crime, low-income households (11%) to the average household (16%)


-Felson (2002) argues that individuals committing crimes often base their decision on how physically easy it is to steal the item without being caught, and when combined with the Right Realist argument that UK society has focused on "target hardening" (making things harder to steal), low-income working class cannot always afford these measures like the middle and upper class can and so have to suffer with the consequences

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Changing class structure (1)

Upper class (1):

-Seen as smallest social class yet the most wealthy/powerful, includes traditional aristocracy/gentry, economic elite (company directors, QCs and city financiers) and celebrities such as David Beckham or Simon Cowell

-Is the upper class in decline: 1. Roberts (2004): some traditional upper class have had wealth reduced/inheritance tax raised

2. Scott (1997): argues upper class still exists and has better life chances than others, they own "property for power" as opposed to "property for use" like most of the population have, goes on to argue a limited number of people sit on boards of large companies (often more than one) and this led to the strengthening of the capitalist class, and only 0.1% of the population are these successful directors and owners of large capital

3. Lansley (2010): despite a rise in "self-made super rich" (celebrities/tycoons), birth is still the main determinant of the upper class, believes it is not in decline

4. Adonis & Pollard (1989): argues "class divisions are intensifying", based on detailed evidence of inequalities, particulary in the education system, and employment that follows for those in elite schools

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Changing class structure (2)

Upper class (2):

-Is the upper class the ruling class:

1. Scott says also the ruling class, with "political domination and power", argues a "power bloc" exists from within that a "power elite" emerge, (people in powerful jobs like cabinet ministers/senior civil servants), are in elite positions and act in a cohesive way, partly as a result of elite self-recruitment, pratice social closure by putting barriers in the way of those who are upwardly socially mobile, and are a "unified property class"

2. Rex (1974): argues that they are likley to have had similar school/university education and so are socialized into believing in the importance of acting together, common experiences legitamize this common action

3. Westergaard and Resler (1975): support Marxists and argue that although class system is complex, stil evidence of a major division between capital and labour, this division is maintained by the ruling class, who act in the interests of capital

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Changing class structure (3)

Upper class (3):

-To what extent is the upper class influenced by the global economy:

1. Sklair (1995): argues there is a transnational capitalist class with increasing power, cites McDonalds and Coca-Cola as example of transnational companies these capitalists own which gives them global power, they can make "global" decisions and oppose tariff barriers, he further argues that governments who try to make economic decisions without paying attention to these transnational capitalists may suffer from the withdrawal of their investements


-Saunders (1990): argues there is no ruling elite, but rather an "influential economic elite", argues old class divisions are much weaker, and though society needs inequalities what has happened under capitalism is that wealth has spread to more people

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Changing class structure (4)

Middle class (1):

-Historical shift from manufacturing to services has led to growth of middle class, traditionally defined as those with non-manual jobs (including teachers/office workers), however deciding who should be included and who should not is known as the "boundary problem"

-Middle class include: professionals (educated skilled group with well-payed secure jobs), self-employed (Marx referred to as the petit-bourgeosie), managers who have often risen through the ranks via promotion and white-collar workers

-The professionals: number have increased as the welfare state has grown and with it the need for range of welfare professionals, workers in many areas have sought this professional status, they can also practice elite self-recruitment; Law society has examinations in order to join

1. Savage (1992): professionals have cultural/economic capital, enables them to ensure that their children go to good schools and get good jobs

2. Devine (2004): pass on values/cultural/social capital to children to reproduce advantage

3. Roberts (1977): middle class become middle classes, range of jobs more diverse-fragmentation has occured

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Changing class structure (5)

Middle class (2):

-Managers: not as tight-knit as professionals, likely to have less job security and tend to be a less cohesive and more individualistic group then professionals, and most while have aspirations for their children wanting them to have a university education, tend to have economic rather than cultural capital, and can therefore buy some cultural capital for their children

1. Savage (1992): argues that many managers have been been upwardly socially mobile

2. Adonis and Pollard (1998): Some managers are extremely well paid, and part of the "super class" identified by the pair

-Self employed: diverse, from plumners to electricians to management consultants, number of self-employed have increased as technology has developed

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Changing class structure (6)

Middle class (3):

-White collar workers: includes a range of people, from shop-workers and secretaries to call centre workers, various studies argue that white-collar workers have routinized jobs, poor conditions and poor wages

1. Braverman (1974): argues some white-collar workers have become proletarianized, and that their work has become de-skilled and routinized

2. Westegaard and Resler (1975): argues that in terms of conditions and wages, white-collar workers are more similar to the working class than to the middle class

3. Crompton and Jones (1984): critical of many studies of the working class for ignoring the position of women, arguing that 91% of their sample study had no control over their work

4. Marshall (1997): studied men/women, disputes Crompton's view that clerical work has been de-skilled, Lockwood (1958) also agreed, arguing that clerical workers had not been proletarianized

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Changing class structure (7)

Middle class (4):


1. Wright (1985): argues that capitalist socieities are formed of two major classes (bourgeosie and proletariat) and that while there are those in the middle of a contradictory class position, they are not a class as such, just groups of intermediary workers

2. Giddens (1973): argues middle class should include lower-level white-collar workers

3. Savage et al (1992): argues that the middle class is fluid and that there are a number of divisions, based on property/organizational skill/cultural assests that are more likley to lead to intra-class conflict than homogeneity

4. Number of new technology workers who have some autonomy over their work has grown

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Changing class structure (8)

Working Class (1):

-Traditional Marxists argue it is a homogenus group, but evidence points towards a division between the traditional working class and the new working class

-Many people argue that traditional working class has declined in number with changes such as post-Fordism (replacement of mass production such as assembly lines with changes in the organization of work, which requires greater skill and flexibility from the workforce), new technology, globalization and the decline in manufacturing

-Characteristics of the traditional working class: close-knit communities, "jobs for life" such as coal mining and ship-building, traditional gendered roles (women do most domestic work), hegemonic masculinity, sense of class, class consciousness and awarenes of social inequities


1. Lockwood (1966) found many of these characteristics mentioned, but his study is dated

2. Cannadine (2000) argues that this is a rosy picture of the traditional working class, who were not always as united as the text implies, for example always those people prepared to break a strike

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Changing class structure (9)

Working class (2):

-The New Working Class: Crewe (1983) and other like Goldthorpe and Lockwood argue that thhey tend to live in the south, work in newer manufacturing industries and often are not unionized

-Characteristics: instrumental attitudes to work (go for money not personal satisfaction), tend to focus on family rather than class and do not have a substantial degree of class consciousness, fragmentation as a class with the advent of post-Fordism and they are less likley to belong to a union, tend to have privatized family lifestyles rather than spending time with the community as whole, and also tend to have greater affluence (be home/car owners, holidays)

-Embourgoisement: based on the work of Zweig (1961), Goldthorpe and Lockwood (1968) tested it on affluent car workers of Luton, and found that while they had an affluent lifestyle they had not become middle class retaining a  "them" and "us" attitude to employers, Devine (1992)  evidence that workers held traditional value/attitudes, although they were consumer conscious, clearly showing a convergence between their lifestyles and the middle classes

-McDowell (2003) argues young men were suffering a "crisis of masculinity", as their masculinity was comprimised as most job vacancies are in the feminized service sector

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Changing class structure (10)

Working class (3):


1. Marxists argue that there is still a unified working class

2. Braverman (1974) argues that de-skilling has led to the proletarianization of routine clerical workers, who are not part of the working class

3. Post-modernists argue that class is less important than consumption

4. Miles (1989) argues that ethnicity divides classes and that there are racialized class fractions

5. Savage (2001, 2005) found, though tentatively, that people did often align themselves with their class to give them some "ordinariness" and  "normality"

6. Vincent et al (2007) found that respondents in their study of working-class families and childcare in london wanted to be acknowledge as respectable working class rather than  "the roughs"

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Changing class structure (11)

Underclass (1):

-Various terms used to describe social groups seperated from mainstream soicety; poor, marginalized, socially excluded, the lumpenproletariat (Marx) and the underclass, term is used to describe individuals who are structurally seperate and culturally distinct from the reguarly employed working-class, underclass characterized by poverty/unemployment/marginalization

-Is there an underclass: Giddens (2006) and Runciman (1990) argue there is an underclass which can be structurally identified, Murray (1984) also argues there is a clear underclass, however Mann and Bagguley (1992) argue no identifiable stable group which could be called an underclass, too many people moving in and out of unemployment, not "stable members of an underclass, but unstable members of the working class"

-Murray (1989): suggest USA/UK have a distinct lower than working-class subculture known as the "underclass" which subscribes to deviant/criminal values over mainstream values and transmits this deficient culture via socialisation, Murray sees them as lacking in values especially towards marriage/family life, and this is clear as a large percentage of "underclass" children brought up by single irresponsible mothers, and absent fathers means that boys lack paternal discipline and male role models so will turn to gaining status through crime than supporting their family with a steady job, these males are generally hostile towards authority 

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Changing class structure (12)

Underclass (2):

-Marsland (1992): argues welfare state is responsible for the "underclass" because welfare dependecy has undermined people's sense of committment/support to one another, people that are part of the underclass are alledgedly work-shy, much preferring to live off of state benefits

-Taylor (1997): rejects New Right views but suggests an underclass exists, argues young unskilled working males have been affected increasing inequality/declining job propsects, therefore underclass is the result of material deprivation rather than unacceptable culture

Evaluation of the New Right:

1. New Right neglect social and economic factors that lead to poverty

2. Murray's evidence is based on a cursory visit to the north-east, not detailed research

3. Feminists criticise it for ignoring females that come from the underclass

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Changing class structure (13)

Underclass (3):

-Structural view: argue that inequalities have led to an underclass rather than a lifestyle choise, do not take a united view but all agree that the underclass exists for strucural reason of some kind

1. Giddens (2006): argues those at the bottom form a distinctive class, they are disadvantage compared to the working class in the labour market and have worst jobs if they get employed at all, also says there is a dual labour market and workers in the secondary labour market have low paid jobs and poor security, and that women and people from minority ethnic groups are the most likley to be in the underclass

-However, Mann (1991) argues there is no clear division between the the primary/secondary labour market as Giddens suggest, and says Giddens' theory does not take into account gender or ethnicity, argues there is no underclass

2. Although Westergaard (1992) once argued that the underclass were a part of the working class, he now argues that changing economic circumstances have meant that there are now people "situated structurally below the traidtional working class"

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Changing class structure (14)

Underclass (4):

3. Runciman (1990) argues that there is a seven-system class system in the UK, bases his model on extent to which people have power, control and marketability, argues that bottom 5% constitute an underclass, emphasizes people's roles and argues that those whose roles mean that they are unable to participate in the labouyr makret and who rely on benefits are the underclass

4. Craine (1997) "Black Magic Roundabout", ethnogrpahic research of 39 unqualified school leavers, found that the young people were moved from one training course to another, and it was the uselessness of that together with the lack of jobs that meant some of them "chose" alternative carreers of single parenthood or crime, which were rooted in their material circumstances and resulting disaffection, but it did not make them part of an identifiable underclass

5. McDonald and Marsh (2005) also take the view that strucutural and material deprivation have resulted in groups of young people being marginalized and disconnected from mainstream society, which is not of their own choosing

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Relationship between class, gender, ethnicity and

-Relationship between social factors are clearly linked to social difference/inequalities, and two sociologists have contributed to the debate about this relationship:

1. Devine (2005): argues that the intersection of social factors is central to contemporary discussions of inequalities, however she also argues that it is problematic to assign people to fixed groups, since they belong to more than one group

2. Anthias (2004): argues that inequalities are not just about the seperation of social factors, but the ways in which these are interwoven


1. Anthias argues not just an issue of intersecting, but how they intersect

2. Bradley (2006): takes a postmodern view, preferring to use terms such as fragmentation and hybridiy to try to reflect the flexible and dynamic social positions people occupy

3. Vincent et al (2007): in their study on childcare in London agree, arguing it is hard to predict the areas of commanlity and difference between different individuals with different social factors

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Relationship between class, gender, ethnicity and

-Relationship between social factors occurs not just in terms of the social reality of men, women and minority ethnic groups who are being studied, but also in relation to researchers themselves:

1. Gelsthorpe (1992): notes extent to which experience, age, sex and ethnicity can influence research is often ignored/underplayed, for example during her study of male prisoners she sometimes found that her gender was an issue

2. Phoenix (1998): a black women, carried out research on white women and found that the traditional power relationship in the interview was altered

3. Skeggs (1995): social factors cannot be seperated because people use these categories to help them to organize their lives, therefore even if the researcher is from the same ethnic/gender background, class may affect his/her relationship with the person/people being researched

-Studies can illustrate the relationship between class, gender, ethnicity and age: McRobbies (1977): found working-class girls developed an idology of romance, so were realistic about marriage as their gender but also as their class saw it as a way to gain status, and similary Thiel's (2007) study showed the research of construction workers in London and found a "highly masculine" dominant culture amongst workers, which was racialized

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Functionalism Class Inequality (1)

-Argues that inequalities have a purpose; they are functional for society, structural theory based on the notion that society is based on shared values, this concensus means that society will be in a state of equilibrim, and that there is harmony, as a result of which there will be social solidarity, functionalists argue that inequalities exist in all socieities are are inevitable

-Durkheim (1893): founding father, argued that industrialized socieities are complex and society needs specialists to ensure that it runs smoothly and this harmony could be achieved by a division of labour whereby different people have different jobs

-Some of the jobs would have a higher status and greater rewards/power, people would accept this as long as the system is seen as fair, conflict might occur but it would be controlled by socialization

-Socialization was the process whereby shared values could be passed from one generation to the next, at the time Durkheim wrote he suggested education, family and religion were the three most important agents of socialization, disharmony might arise when people felt the system was not fair, for example when large bonuses are paid to bankers during a recession

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Functionalism Class Inequality (2)

-Parsons (1940): developed Durkheim's ideas, in industrialized socitieties social stratification (therefore inequality) exists on which roles are agreed to be the most important and therefore the most functional for society, agreement occurs because people are socialized into the shared norms and values of society (intially by the family), and subsuquently by education and other agents

-Value consensus that results is what holds society together and gives it social order, sharing a common identity gives people a purpose and a commitment to the maintenance of society, these values also give people common goals like to work hard, also argues people have a number of roles, such as expressive and instrumental roles of men/women, ascribed not achieved

-Davis and Moore (1945): developed ideas, argue that sopciety needs the most talented to perform the most skilled jobs and therefore has to pay them accordingly and give them a high status, exists a meritocracy and the most able through examinations be allocated important jobs

-Expectation that the most talented will be prepared to make sacrifices early on to be educated and trained, and then rewarded later, exams sift and sort people to appropriate jobs (role allocation) making the system legitmized, this stratification ensure that those at the top work to maintain their position and those at the bottom try to better themselves

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Functionalism Class Inequality (3)


1. There is a general consensus about the values and norms of society by the majority (e.g wealth is good, murder is bad) and they wish to keep the status-quo, individuals and groups have to accept their role in society

2. Society is made up of intergrated parts that are tied together, thus if something is wrong it will effect the others (functions like the organs of our body), these parts in society are the instituions of our society e.g family, school, economy, justice system etc

3. Society tends to seek stability and avoid conflict, conflict is seen as dysfunctional

4. Feminists acknowledge that Parson's recognition of the expressive domestic roles women fill was accurate to an extent and one of the first academics of the time to do so

5. Support from New Right Saunders (1990), agree with functionalist ideas of the meritocracy, but that some people are not motivated to work hard and so end up as a part of the underclass

6. At first glance, meritocracies seem to be a fair system of society, everyone has a fair chance

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Functionalism Class Inequality (4)


1.Work of functionalists is not supported by empirical evidence, particuarly in regard to value consensus

2. Sociologists today would argue that religion is no longer as an important agent of socialization as it was in Durkheim's time, Hamliton (1995) argues that this idea only applies to small non-literate socieites, modern society is full of diversity and Durkheim overstates religious influence

3. There is no consensus with regard to with which are most important job in society, e.g banker or nuse or soldier?

4. Some groups start with more power/status so can ensure their children get better jobs, not fair

5. People don't start from same point (social factors/life chances) so a true meritocracy isn't possible

6. Tumin (1967) argues that stratification systems can demotivate those at the bottom, and can encourage "hostility, suspicion and distrust"

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Functionalism Gender Inequality (5)

-Parsons (1955): argues roles in family are different but not unequal, argues that  women are suited to the "expressive role" of caring/nurturing and men to the "instrumental role" as breadwinner, argues family has two functions (stabilizing children and stabilization of the adult personality), and it is through the first of these that gendered roles are learnt

-Murdock (1945): supports this view, arguing that one of the four main functions of the family is to educate children into the accepted norms and values of society, which includes their gender roles

-Human Capital Theory: Economists take a similar view, arguing that men have more human capital than women as far as work is concerned, they have a greater commitment to work, more experience and undertake more training, and it is not surpirsing therefore that women will, on balance, be paid less and recieve less training, and therefore have less chance of promotion

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Functionalism Gender Inequality (6)


1. Scientifically it has been shown women have a "mothering instinct", also supported historically

2. Studied 250 societies, so more reliability in terms of evidence?

3.Architects of their own role, Hakim (2004)-"preference theory"


1. Oakley (1974) argue gender roles are socially constructued, and not biologically ascribed, point of view is written from a male academics view, women as homer-maker convient, dismiss as sexist

2. Studied western socieities development, not representative of all socieities

3.Sloane (1994): found that gender continued to influence to influence pay even when qualifications and experience were taken into account

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Functionalism Ethnic inequality (7)

-Parsons (1966): Ethnic differences and inequalities are temporary and based on cultural differences between minority and or immigrant groups and their home nation, such differences are inevitable over a period of time, but functionalists argue that the maintenance of social order/collective solidarity meant that minority groups slowly adapt to the majority culture over time, this process is sometimes referred to as assimilation where a group gives up it's own cultural values and adopts those of the ethnic majority-a kind of cultural melting pot

-Assimilation was considered a positive outcome of racial/ethnic inequality and means of preventing a state of anomie, Parsons wrote that the "American *****" was a second-class citizen because of their skin colour, but argued that over time this common value would change and minority ethnic groups would either became assimilated/intergrated into an emerging shared value system and would play a full role in the meritocratic society

-Patterson (1965): espoused a similar view, adding that any racism from the dominant group was a result of "ignorance and confusion; it was not deliberate and would eventually go"

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Functionalism Ethnic Inequality (8)


1. Historically, Parsons view of ethnic intergration supported by increased tolerance today

2. Known as "Immigrant-host model", aspects of this in British citizenship tests today

3.Stronger social cohesion, supports functionalist theory of sociology


1.Solomos and Black (1994): argue assimilation does not lead to decline in inequalities

2. Hall (1979): Argues immigrant host-model reinforced racism and inequalities because it defined minority ethnic groups as the problem and ignored structural integreties

3. Functionalism fails to acknowledge that minority ethnic groups may wish to retain their own cultures and not assimilated

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Functionalism Age Inequality (9)

-Parsons (1954): argued social cohesion based on age groups knowing place and roles, viewed teenage culture as a transitional stage between childhood and adulthood associating it with issues of transition and insecurity as young people sought to fulfil their social roles, old age was considered a time of loneliness/isolation, recieving a pension created a dependency and with it came a drop in status, social roles of old people become increasingly cut off from mainstream society

-Eisenstadt (1956): agreed and argued that childrne have less status than adults, must be taught knowledge/skills to enable them to perform their adult roles, position of the elderly has improved with a statutory retirement age/state pension, but they lose power/status as their children leave home and retire

-******* & Henry (1961): see old age as a time of "disengagement" from society, argue that the marginalization of the elderly is good for society because they become less able to do the work and block oppurtunities for the young, gradual disengagement allows both society and the individual to adapt to their ultimate disengagement

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Functionalism Age Inequality (10)


1. Logical explanation as to why the elderly need to be marginalized/disengage from society, for the younger more-able generation to take over

2. Gives a possible explanation for ageism and age-related crime

3. Better than activity theory (elderly people benefit themselves and society for staying active) because functionalist disengagement theory is not too optimistic on what elderly people can achieve


1. Hunt (2005): argues that disengagement theory ignores the fact that some people may not be able to or do not wish to disengage, disengagement may be a waste of human resources

2. Hockey & James (1993): argue that the role of the elderly results from social construction rather than disengagement

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Marxism Class Inequality (1)

-Based on writings of Marx in the Communist Manifesto (1848), macro theory which like functionalism concerned with the structure of society, explains inequalities in societies such as Britain by examing the ways in which Bourgeosie exploit and oppress the working class/proletariat, inequalities are a result of the economic arrangements people to meet their basic needs

-Bourgeosie (wealthy/powerful people) own means of production and proletariat own their own labour power which creates major division in society/reason for class conflict, means of production are land, raw materials, factories and machines, bougeoisie exploit and oppress proletariat, exploit them by keeping the wages as low as possible

-Proletariat much larger in number than bourgeosie but they own nothing but labour power and are dependent on bourgeosie, proletariat have little or no power whereas the bougeosie have power to exploit/oppress workers and obtain profit, order and stability exist in society because ruling class excercise power over all groups (elected government acts on behalf of the bougeosie, implement laws to protect their properties and determine working practices), capitaism survies because inequalites seen as just, people believed the system was fair and did not realise they were being exploited (false class consciousness), ISA helps to socialize people into false class consiouesness, however some are aware of this and have a class consciousness

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Marxism Class Inequality (2)

-Bowles and Gintis (1974): applied Marx's ideas of analysis of different parts of society, used Marxist ideas to explain how the education system reproduced the ideas of the ruling class and legitimized inequalities, students experience of schooling is an alienating one, school specifically prepares students for their future as workers in a capitalist system

-They argue that school does not prepare everyone in the same way; it prepares them according to their future position in society, argue schools are not meritocratic and that claiming they are is part of ruling class ideology persuading people that inequalities is fair

-Braveman (1975): argues there has been a de-skilling of white-collar jobs, they have become proletarianized, technology has been one of the causes of this, also argues that the same has happened to some professions, teachers are an example, they are increasingly regulated and impacted, they are told what to teach and when

-Althusser (1977): Captalist system is legitimised by the state which intervenes in the media (own some of them), in religion (Church of England) and education (subject to central state control through the operation of laws and national frameworks), all form part of the Ideological State Apparatus (ISA), way in which state controls our thoughts 

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Marxism Class Inequality (3)


1. Structuralist approach which links the major instutions

2. Emphasises the importance of the economy in creating social inequality

3. Offers a solution to social inequalities, get rid of capitalism and replace with communist society

4. Weberianism supports Marxism to an extent, agreed with Marx about ownership of the means of production is the most important factor in terms of economic rewards and life chances

5. Analyses role ISA has to play (power of agents of socialization in society)

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Marxism Class Inequality (4)


1. Marx argued that capitalism would eventually way to give way to socialism and then to Communism, but it has not and despite various crises and recessions, managed to survive

2. New Right and Functionalists argue that the bougeosie are not a united class, Saunders (1990) argues there is an "influential economic elite", old class divisions are weaker and subsuquently the upper class are no longer an organized group and so spread of wealth to society

3. Postmodernists argue that class is deas (Pakulski and Waters 1966) and people make their own lifestyle choices now

4. Feminists argue that traditional Marxists ignore the gender inequalities of women, Black feminists argue they ignore ethnicity, focus too much on class

5. New Right argue people make their own choices, they are not controlled by a ruling class

6. Not everyone has a false class consciousness; some understand they are being exploited

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Marxism Gender Inequality (5)

-Abbot and Wallace (2005): argue that Marx marginalized women in his analysis of capitalism

-Beechey (1976): Women less likley to join trade unions and more likley to accept low wages as their income is frequently supplmentary to that of the male breadwinner, reserve army of labour

-Engels (1972): The role of the family is to maintain and reproduce the labour force in order to support capitalism, nuclear family enables men to pass on their property, men need to control women so they know who are their heirs


1. Historically makes sense, trade unions did have a lot of power, nobility passing on to heirs

2. Marxist Feminists support this view, their own theory

1. Criticism of Beechey: jobs less likley to be unionised, and women are increasingly manin wage-earner in dual households, to consider women as a reserve army of labour is generalising

2. Marxists agree with Engels, why it's men not women who are gained control of private property, accused or priotising class/economic difference over sex differences with no evidence

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Marxism Ethnic Inequalities (6)

-Cox (1948): proposed racial differences had been created by the economic system, racism was created to sustain capitalism, helped to maintain a false class consciousness by using a dive-and-rule tactic, create divisions in working class itself there is less likley to be a chance of revolt

-Castle's and Kossack (1973): argued ethnic-minority groups could also be used as part of a reserve army of labour, supporitng the capitalist system while providing an illusion of meritocracy, and these workers are then forced to work for lower wages than their white counterparts in order to survive

-For these Marxist writers, minority ethnic groups form a sub-section of the working class, and prevent the development of a class in itself to a class for itself, a key process of Marx's theory of class development

-Westegaard and Resler (1976): disagree with the traditional anlysis and argue that minority groups form a part of the unified working class, not a divided one, so suffer the same inequalities

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Marxist Ethnic Inequalities (7)


1. Considers how class and ethnicity interact with one another to create inequality

2. Historically able to show how capitalism creates racism (e.g colonial times in order to create system which led to racism later on)

3. Neo-Marxists agree in the sense that they argue class is a racialized experience


1. However, Neo-Marxists consider it to be too deterministic and does not adequtely take into account racism experienced by minority ethnic groups

2. Solomos and Back (1994): argue traditional Marxism is inadequate in explaining contemporary issues of inequalities/power, there is no unified working class that opposes the capitalist class

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Marxist Age Inequalities (8)

-Inadequate state pension leads to some elderly people being dependent on benefits

-Young people and retired people form a reserve army of labour (Marx, 1845), both groups have little power and it is easy to hire and fire them

-The elderly tend to have less disposable income and are consequently of less interest to capitalism; they do not produce or consume

-McDonald and Marsh (2005): found that young people in deprived areas lack power and status


1. Beechey (1972): supports reserve army, argue females exist in this group, extends concept

2. Philipson (1982): supports, says capitalism needs people to be useful, not reliant on benefits

1. Reserve army of labour does not explain age inequality because it can apply to any age

2.Growing number of elderly with disposable income who have "consumer power"

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Neo-Marxist Class Inequality (1)

-Developed ideas of Marx, argue infrastructure (economic base of society) and the social relations that arise from it, important to understanding idea of culture, focused on a number of areas to explain inequalities improving

-Dominance of ruling class: Gramsci (1971) stress the role of idea to maintain ruling class control, ruling class spread their idea through education/religion/media, uses the concept of hegemony to described ideological control over masses, argued bourgeosie control working class by controlling ideas

-Argues ruling class realised false class consciousness was not enough since evidence showed the working class knew they were being exploited and at times challenged it, argues divisions in class/state exploit these devisions in order to maintain ruling class hegemony, hegemony is a powerful way to control working class, persuades them power/rule of the bourgeosie are legitimate

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Neo-Marxist Class Inequality (2)

Relationship between infrastructure/super-structure: argue relationship between economic base (infrastructure) of a society and a superstructure is crucial in understanding how ruling class reproduce and legitimate class inequality

-Mode of production and social relations are linked to this, capitalist economy social relationships are articulated via money, proletariat sell labour power to capitalists/bourgeoisie, and in doing so accept that they will be oppressed, reproduces class inequalities in the infrastructure and legitmises them by the transmission of dominant ideology

-Althusser (1970): argues education system does this so succesfully that working class accept it as fair, argues most ruling class rely on the ISA to persuade people inequalities are fair, but repressive state apparatus is always available if it proves necessary

Changing nature of class structure: Wright (1978) argues growth of technology and of intermediate supervisors/managers has led to changes in the class structure, control is now important as well as relationship to the means of production, by control Wright means control of labour, of investment and the means of production

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Neo-Marxist Class Inequality (3)

Cultural, social and economic capital: Bourdieu (1973): argues class inequalites are reproduced by the education system, system values cultural capital of the middle classes, they are able to impose their habitus (meant ideas and cultural framework of a class), their academic success can then be translated into economic capital (e.g good jobs) and the cultural capital they possess also allows them to introduce their children to the "right" or influential people in the job market

The role of media: Neo-Marxists of Frankfurt School argue that the media diverts the attention from the working class from the inequalities they are experincing and encourages them to consume and become a celebrity culture

-Also say that the media has an important role in controlling the working class, and persuades people to accept inequalities, capitalism they argue has shifted the working class from a focus of econimic inequality to consumerism

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Neo-Marxist Class Inequality (4)


1. Aims to explore influence of gender/ethnicity which traditional Marxism fails to do

2. Focuses on importance of culture/ideology as a way to maintain ruling class hegemony, does not just focus on the economic power of the ruling class

3. Sees class inequality as more complex, and takes into account the economic/social/cultural differences between groups, as opposed to the two-class relationship of traditional Marxism


1. Still believers there will be a proletariat revolution (even though it seems clear it won't happen)

2. Unable to specify when and under what circumstances cultural factors are more important

3. It is a euro-centric theory, focuses only on western socieities

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Neo-Marxism Ethnicity Inequality (5)

-Miles (1980): argues minority ethnic groups are part of the same class structure as the majority group, however they form a racialised part of it, meaning ethnic minorities may always be treated/percieved differently because of racial factors

-This does not imply direct racism, but may form part of cultural racism, Miles used concepts of racialized class fractions to explain the existence of ethnic minorities in the petite bourgeosie, or middle-classes (which do exist Neo-Marxists argue), in other words ethnic minorities can be found in all social classes, but their ethnicity means they will be subject to differential treatments

-Hall (1979): made an important contribution when he argued that ethnic relations are historically specific and subject to change over time, his work highlights immigration problems of the 1970s, which he argues were used by the media to divert attention away from the economic recession facing the government of today

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Neo-Marxism Ethnic Inequality (6)


1. Historical evidence supports ideas of class and ethnicity

2. Could be applied to the position of Polish migrant workers, in recent times the UK legally asm members of the European Union, but who face difficulties fitting into British society as they are percieved by some to be "taking jobs" and by others to be culturally different and therefore troublesome


1. Neo-Marxists have still not tackled the formation of racist attitudes themselves, which does not fit the growth of capitalism

2. Strong argument put foward by Weberian sociologists that ethnic/racial differences override economic differences in explaining inequality

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Webarian Class Inequality (1)

-Weber was writing at the turn of the 19th century, arguing that stratification is not just based on the economic relationships people enter into, as Marx argued, but the standing or status a person has and the political influence/power a person might have as a result of membership power, however he accepted that class is the most important determinant of the three in relation to the acqusition of life chances/inequality


-Argue class is concerned with production of goods, concerned with the ownership/non-ownership of economic resources/occupational skills, and a person's class is based on what they bring to the "marketplace", those own the most marketable resources (skills/education) will be able to acquire more income and access to life chances giving them advantages in comparison to others

-Homogenus classes are not a given, rather within a class there are several layers, within a class there may be different layers of skills and power, and people are in the same class if they have the oppurtunity to obtain the same advanatges as others in that class

-Weber also believed people can move up and down social class (they can be socially mobile), the middle classes are expanding and polarization between rich and poor has not happened

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Webarian Class Inequality (2)


-Based on person's social position, on their prestige/social standing, and this is based on the perception of others and of what society generally deems to be of high standing, some occupations have high status while others might have less status but higher capital

-Status groups compete with one another and practice social closure, Crompton (1993) argues that the British ruling class do this, work to preserve market psoition and tend to socialize with those they consider to have the same status as themselves, women and minority ethnic groups often have lower status than white males in the class they are located in


-Groups/organizations such as political parties/trade unions/pressure groups where people come together to either compete for power or influence those with it, the more power a person has the more they are liklely to have better life chances

-Rex and Tomlinson (1979): argued there was dual-labour market and working-class members of minority ethnic groups were largely in the secondary labour market, partly because of lower status ethnicity gave them, and they lacked political representation, and this led to development of a racialized underclass

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Webarian Class Inequality (3)


1. Marx agrees with Weber that owenership of the means of production is the most important factor in terms of economic rewards and life chances

2. Neo-Marxists would support Weberianism to an extent because it explores many different factors than just the class of an individual

3. Weber ideas about status as well as occupation have been incorporated into the NS-SEC


1. Postmodernists dismiss Weberianism as another grand theory, Lyotard (1984)

2. Feminists argue it still does not pay enough attention to women

3. Marxists would still argue most important element of social stratification is class

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Webarian Gender Inequality (4)

-Barron and Norris (1976): Dual labour market theory: in which they argue that there are two labour markets: the primary one where jobs are secure, well paid and there are good working conditions, and the secondary labour market, characterized by lower paid  jobs with less security, often part-time or temporary

-Workers in the secondary labour market can easily replace and employers can get away with paying them poor wages compared to those in the primary labour market, and women are more likely to be employed in the secondary labour market because employers think they are less interested in work than men


-Encompasses issue like women's "dual social role" with special emphasis on the primary female role of "motherhood", Hakim (2004)


-Burchell and Rubery (1994) criticise this theory, argue that the division between primary/secondary labour markets is too simplistic, their research revealed at least five divisions, and they were not all gendered

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Webarian Ethnic Inequality (5)

-Argue that racial and ethnic inequalities are linked to economics, but status and power are also important

-Parkin (1979): argued class and status are equally important and the middle classes practice social closure to keep out people from minority ethnic backgrounds

-Rex and Tomlinson (1979): argue there is a racialized underclass, argue the marginalized position of many black and asian people in the UK can be understood in terms of an underclass which occupies a disadvantaged position in areas such as employment, housing, education and power to make decisions

-Barron and Norris (1976): argue there is a dual labour market; primary sector with secure well paid jobs, and a secondary sector where jobs are less secure, often part-time and non unionized, minority ethnic groups are more likley yo be in the secondary sector

Strength: Supported by Neo-Marxists, Weberian view being similar in terms of racialized class fractions

WeaknessesNew Right theorists like Murry/Marsland argue many minority ethnic groups do not attempt to engage with the labour market, no evidence to support racialized underclass

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Weberian Age Inequality (6)

-Ageing process clearly associated with issue of status/power in the UK, old age and indeed retirement can be construed as triggers for a loss of status (McKingsley, 2001) and this is as much cultural as it is economic, without a strong makret/work situation there will inevitably be a weaking of status/poer, youth groups can be explained with adherence to these concepts

-Parkin (1968): used concept of negatively privileged status groups in his work on ethnicity, concept which could be applied to older people who have lost their position in the labour market to younger people keen to work their way up the occupational ladder, related to this is the idea of a glass ceiling, that some people become simply too old to promotoe, dual labour market theory also be applied here


-Neo-Marxists support the Weberian concept explanations, status/power linked to capitalisism


-However, all these concepts can be applied to different social groups, not specific enough

-Feminists might criticise it for ignoring in particular worse situation of older women

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Feminism Inequality theory (1)

-Feminism originated with women's suffrage campaigns in the early 20th century in trying to secure the vote, second-wave feminism in the 1960/1970s where it became radicalised because it was clear that the vote would not bring about all the social/economic/political changes they wanted, thrid-wave feminims now today which focuses on different social factors and how they influence women, so for example black women, older women etc

1. Liberal Feminists: Ask for equality of oppurtunity between men and women, want to remove barriers to achieving equality and called for equal rights in the workplace/public arena, highly supportive of Sex Discrimination Act (1975) and the Equal Pay Act (1970)

2. Marxist Feminists: interested in the economic aspects of gender inequality, particularly how women's role as primary carers/housewives helped to sustain capitalism, focused on women's economic role on society and the exploitation that women faced in the home, reliant on their husbands wage, cleaning/looking after children without wage

3. Radical Feminists: more interested in patriarchy and explained how society operates for the benefit of men, controlled by and in the itnerests of men, credited with challenging conventional thinking and assumptions and some radical feminists had some extreme solutions to this issue

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Feminism Class/Gender Inequality (2)

Liberal Feminists-Outline:

-Most liberal feminists like Friedan (1963) argue that gender inequality is a product of general inequality is a product of gender inequality in society which has been allowed to proceed unchallenged for centuries, do not blame anyone/anything for this, tackle reform by removing barriers blocking inequality of oppurtunity between men and women

-Oakley (1974): argues socialization/sex-role conditioning leads to gender inequality, women are still socialized into passive or subordinate roles and men dominant ones, argues this is the process of canalization and manipulation socializes children into specific gender roles

-Also looked at the family to some extent, Somerville (2000) argues that women are now better off, can get divorced, have access to good jobs, obtain a good education and have control over their fertility 

-Wilkinson (1994): argues there has been a "genderquake", as the service sector has increased in size and women are being empowered

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Feminism Class/Gender Inequality (3)

Liberal Feminists-Evaluation:


1. Realistic to Welfare State ideas in public, private sphere is very difficult to change/enforce

2. They have managed to achieve a lot of social change in the last century, most workable


1. Radical feminists would criticise it for working within the patriarchal system rather than challenging it

2. Largely focuses on the public sphere, and ignores the private sphere like domestic roles/abuse

3. Lacks a theoretical basis, liberal feminists simply believe social change is possible

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Feminism Class/Gender Inequality (4)

Marxist Feminists-Outline:

-Benston (1972): marxist feminists focus on the economic aspects of gender inequality; women as a reserve army of labour, the contribution of domestic labour to capitalism

-The ideology of the nuclear family used by the state, in short women are used to benefit operation of the capitalist economy

-Marxists feminists can be seen as fusing Marxist thinking with gender inequality

-Ansley (1972): supports this, arguing that women absorb the frustration and anger of the husbands who relieve the stress from knowing they are being exploited at work

-Beechey (1977): argued women are cheap labour, and they make up a  "reserve army of labour"; occasionally in a recession they are used to replace more expensive male workers

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Feminism Class/Gender Inequality (5)

Marxist Feminists-Evaluation:


1. Can be seen as making up for the shortfalls of Marxism in terms of gender by fusing the two

2. Offer a possible solution to ending inequality, get rid of the patriarchal capitalist system

3. Reserve army of labour supported by idea like secondary-labour market


1. Hartmann (1981): claims marxist feminism is an "unhappy marriage" as the focus of the two strands are difficult to mould into a coherent theory, arguing that neither patriarchy nor economics alone can explain gender inequality, and her ideas are an example of a dual systems theory

2. Radical feminists argue they pay too little attention to the patriarchy, whereas Black feminists argue they tend to ignore ethnic minority groups

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Feminism Class/Gender Inequality (6)

Radical Feminists-Outline: 

-Firestone (1971): argues that the source of patriarchy lies in biological differences between men and women, women's ability to give birth results in patriarchal dominance

-Millet (1971): disagreed with the biological argument, and argued the patriarchy was not ascribed bit rather socially created and therefore capable of being challenged and deconstructed 

-Walby (1990): suggests patriarchy is not a universal term which is true in one form at all times/places, on one level a patriarchy exists as a social system built on the assumption that men will try to oppress women, but they do not/cannot do this in same way and with success, Walby further argues there is a number of patriarchal relations in operation in paid work, the state and cultural institutions such as the media/education

-Argue family is the main source of oppression, some argue that all-female households are a better option, education also contributes to patriarchal ideology by reflecting a masculine view of the world through the presentation of subjects/teacher behaviour between boys/girls, argue that male domination in society means women are oppressed and subject to violence in the home and out on the streets

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Feminism Class/Gender Inequality (7)

Radical Feminists-Evaluation:


1. Focus on both private and public unlike liberal feminism, "the personal is political"

2. Historically, there is evidence that the patriarchy led directly to gender inequality, analysis of Victorian times and gender roles makes this apparent


1. Marxist Feminists argue not realist for radical feminists to say all women have the sam experience, this will vary with various different social factors

2. Radical Feminists ignore the extent to which progress or gender equality has been made

3. Accused of ignoring the divisions between women based on class/ethnicity

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Feminism Other Inequality (8)

Black Feminism: 

-Much of the work of feminists in the late 20th century has ignored ethncity

-Black feminists argue families provide support in a racist society, argue that the relationship between black men and women is different from that between white men and women

-Black women are marginalized, oppressed and experience racialization, Mirza (1992) study on black girls found that they developed strategies for dealing with these disadvantages, often by not accepting negative racial attitudes of their teachers and acting proud of their cultural identity

Postmodern Feminism:

-Take the view that there are a range of masculinities/feminities to "pick" from, there is no one grand story to explain the oppression of women (death of meta-narratives), and there are differences between women which will affect the choices they make

-Post feminists argue that gender inequalities have largely disappeared and there is no longer an need for feminism, some see feminism as a negative influence, encouraging women to be dissatisfied with their family life

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Feminism Other Inequality (9)

Preference Theory:

-Hakim (2004): most comprehensive challenge to all modes of feminist though, she argued that not all women are disadvantaged, and employing concept from rational choice theory she proposed that women do excercise choice in relation to their position in the home and the workplace, her research identified three groups of women, characterised by their relationship to their domestic roles and workplace:

1. Work centred: 20% of study, career oriented, often single, if with partners egalitarian relationships

2. Adaptive: 60% of study, no clear preference for main role, drifter between both, lack clear economic use of qualifications

3. Home-centred: 20% of study, wives and/or mothersm work flexibly of part-time

-For Hakim, feminism must move on and accept that women have choice which they exercise, and acknowledge that many are happy with their position in society, however it can be criticised in that individuals never truly have free will from the influence of thr structure of society (e.g patriarchy) and so they still suffer from exploitation

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Postmodern Explanations of Inequality (1)

-Emerged in the 1980s as a way of making sense of social and cultural changes in the world, argued that the world was becoming increasingly characterized by uncertaintiy and diversity which cannot be explained by the old grand narratives (e.g traditional sociological theories), key to inequality lies in the development of the post-industrial world and the fact that the production of knowledge has taken precedence over manufacturing 

Importance of consumption rather than production:

-Waters (1997): argues that people are enticed to advertising to conspicuously consume and buy the image they want to portray

-Baudrillard (1983): argues that as we consume more and more we are buying images, moving away from social relationships to relationships with what we can consume, consumerism is democratic because we can choose what to consume, there is no single shared reality-inequality is about different lifestyles choices people make, rather than the old economic divisions of class

-Pakulski and Waters (1996): argue the CLASS IS DEAD, to be middle class in the 21st century might for some be the property they live in, others clothes they wear etc, people are no longer interested in the social and economic relationships of class

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Postmodern Explanations of Inequality (2)


-Bradley (1995): suggests new identities are created by globalization, we are exposed to a range of identities/cultural groups, we can choose to be any one of them, she also argues people no longer see class as their main identity, it intersects with gender and ethnicity

Changing identities:

-inequalities are shaped by lifestyle choices and a "pick and mix" culture in which people are constantly changing their identity, people are more concerned with personal identities than with the collective identities of class

-These personal identities may be shaped by what they consume, by their gender, their ehtnicity and their experience of living in multicultural societies, inequality is a reflection of the decisions people make about their identities, some identities have more status/prestige

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Postmodern Explanations of Inequality (3)

Gender: See Post-Feminism


-Hall (1996): argues that "new ethnicities" are being developed which are partly a result of globalization, a process of hybridization is taking place and is a force for social change, norm for individuals is complex multiple identities which are constantly shifting and being contested

-Modood (2008): argues there is now a "super-diversity" in the Uk as a result of the range of ehtnic groups that live in Britain

-Gilroy (2000): argues one of the biggest barriers to change and ending inequalities based on ethnicity is racial solidarity; hybridization could overcome that barrier, ethnicities are changing with the emergence of hybrid identities

Specific criticism:

-Marxists argue that postmodernists do not take into account of the material deprivation that some minority ethnic groups experience, and that they focus more on culture/identity than inequalities

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Postmodern Explanations of Inequality (4)


-Wilson (1997): the elderly also make lifestyle choices about how they will consume the services on offer to satisfy their wants, no all-embracing "big story" about the elderly as depedent is to fail to see the range of elderly people

-Everham (2003): argues that lfie courses do not follow a similar path as a result of individual choices people make, people have their own individual story

-Featherstone and Hepworth (1999): argue age is fragmented, contstant bombardment of messages from the media to try to "stay young" and delay the ageing process, call it "mask of ageing", on the other hand children are encouraged by the media to take on adult behaviours

-Milne et al (1999): describes wealthier retired  "having grey power", conspicuous consumers

Specific evaluation:

-Nayak (2003): argues that class, racial disadvantage and social and ecomomic exclusion impact heavily on youth leisure/culture, certain lifestyle choices may also not be available to those with a lower income (e.g plastic surgery)

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Postmodern Explanations of Inequality (5)

Strengths of Postmodernism:

1. Highlights some important social changes, especially in the areas of media, culture & identity 

2. Emphasizes that the construction of identity has become more fluid & complex & cannot be reduced simply to as a response to social structural factors, in the same way neither can inequality

3. Provides insight into the most contemporary social changes such as growing risk & uncertainty, globalisation & the power of the media

4. In challenging sociological metanarratives, postmodernism has encouraged sociologists to reflect more on some of their assumptions, how they set their research & the meaning of some contemporary social changes

5. Looks at many different complicated factors in how individuals suffer from inequality

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Postmodern Explanations of Inequality (6)


1. Many people live in the reality of poverty can cannot make lifestyle choices, poverty is structural and constrains people with regard to the choices they make

2. Marxists would argue postmodernists fail to emphasize the role of class and the capitalist system as the single-greatest creator of inequality

3. Links to the work of some feminists who argue that some of the "meta narratives" such as traditional Marxism have either ignored or trivialized gender inequalities

4. It is not possible to change every aspect of one's identity; some things such as age, are ascribed

5. Postmodernism benefits the ruling class to retain inequality; thus, postmodernism is a view that suits them

6. Traditional sources of identity such as class/gender/ethnicity are still important

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Ah, brilliant resource - thank you!

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