Social Inequality and Difference + Functionalist explanations


What is social inequality and difference?

Social differences may be based on material factors such as wealth and income, and cultural factors such as ethnicity; these differences may lead to social inequalities. Social differences may be based on gender, age, religion, class or sexual orientation, and social inequalities may occur as a result of these differences, however, social differences do not necessarilylead to social inequalities.

MacDonald and Marsh found that when young men and women experienced unemployment, the gender difference was not a factor, whereas gender difference is a factor for many women in employment, who on average, earn less than men.

Social mobility- Education has been seen as a route for the working class to move into the middle class.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England points out that the numbers of poorer children entering higher education rose between 1994 and 2009. Evidence from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development demonstrates that there is a strong correlation between fathers who have degrees and their children's wage levels.

The increased number of wokring-class children entering higher education let to some social mobility between 1994-2009. Williams suggests that these working class children may pass this advantage to their own children, reinforcing the social mobility they have experienced themselves. Howeverm, the numbers of working-class students entering higher education may change as fees rise. Poorer children and their parents may be relunctant to pay the high fees, given the uncertainty of the labour marker and postgraduate employment rates.

Functionalist explanations of inequality-

Functionalists argue that inequalities have a purpose: they are functional for society.

Durkheim argued that- industrialised societies are complex, society needs specialists to undertake the various jobs and roles required to make it run smoothly, this harmony could be achieved by a division of labour whereby people have different jobs, some of the jobs would have a…


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