Social stratification and wealth inequality. US population - Term Paper Example

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Social stratification forms the heart of the society and is characteristic of linking the various aspects of the society together. The works of Karl Marx have been significant in making social stratification a major subject of scholarly study and research in the industrialized era…
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Social stratification and wealth inequality. US population
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Download file to see previous pages Social stratification forms the heart of the society and is characteristic of linking the various aspects of the society together. The works of Karl Marx have been significant in making social stratification a major subject of scholarly study and research in the industrialized era. There are various factors that determine the position of the person in the stratified structure of society. These include the nature of the work they perform, the level of education, their sex and ethnicity as well as their mother language, personal wellbeing, child-raising traditions and contentment. The position of the person in society is the most important judge of the attitudes and behavior of the person. Over the passage of time, the inequalities that have emerged in power, wealth and income have been the hotbed of debate for both Marxist and non-Marxist thinkers. Although there is no consensus on the reasons due to which these inequalities surface, the role of socialization in aggravating these inequalities has been starting to be researched and acknowledged by sociologists. The sociological focus of this essay is on the wealth inequality that exists between four different classes of the society. Karl Marx was of the view that class was a product of economic forces. Max Weber contended with a multidimensional perspective of the development of a class system in the society encompassing economic, social and political aspects. There are several theories explaining the creation of inequality between classes. Wealth inequality is the procreation of ideology. Functionalism asserts that it is social inequality which provides the impetus for people to occupy various positions in the society for the survival of the entire class. People would be motivated to achieve what is famously known as the American Dream and to strive for the acquisition of wealth and fortune; this would create two types of groups i.e. people who have been successful in collecting wealth and those who have not. Contrary to that, conflict theory considers social stratification as a consequence of class conflict and blocked opportunity. The conflict theory opposes functionalism by supporting the notion that those at the lower most levels of society are unable to reap large rewards because they are dominated by the higher classes. The Marxist view regards inequality to be a product of capitalism. According to Marx, the industrial society can be classified into two main types based on the ownership of the means of production. Capitalists are in command of the resources of production i.e. land, factories and machinery. Workers do not possess any resources of production and are required to work for the capitalists for a living (Kornblum 246). Wealth inequality is considered to be more serious and acute than income inequality. Wealth inequality refers to either less income in the past years or the lack of any bequeathed wealth from one’s ancestors. Over the passage of time, the division of social classes has come to encompass much greater range and depth. Often sociologists divide society into seven main social classes: 1. Upper-upper class: Old money 2. Lower-upper class: New money 3. Upper-middle class 4. Middle class 5. Working class 6. Working poor 7. Poverty level For the purpose of this essay, four of the classes will be analyzed, compared and contrasted in the context of the wealth inequity that exists between them. Wealth inequality is compared by using measures of social inequality. These include an analysis of the social worth of households, the total assets of the classes, the inequality between the rich and the poor and proportions of wealth (Kornblum 265). Identifying and explaining the characteristics of a typical member of a social class is easier than to demarcate and differentiate the boundaries of the class. Moreover transfer of people from one class to another is not a fluid process, and people do not frequently ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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