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TO WHAT EXTENT ARE INEQUALITIES IN SOCIETY AN INHERENT CONSEQUENCE OF CAPTALISM - Essay Example

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To What Extent are Inequalities in Society an Inherent Consequence of Capitalism? Introduction Inequality has been an area of interest for scholars and policymakers, especially since capitalism became a dominant mode of production across the globe. The unique prospect for innovation, free enterprise, and generation of profit or wealth that emerged from capitalism has generally been accompanied by constant social inequalities—primarily wealth and income inequalities (Mooney, Knox, & Schacht, 2010)…
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TO WHAT EXTENT ARE INEQUALITIES IN SOCIETY AN INHERENT CONSEQUENCE OF CAPTALISM
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Download file to see previous pages Another line of argument states that capitalism survives because of its capacity to reward well-performing economic participants. Within this perspective, inequalities reveal, primarily, differences in economic ability and levels of productivity among members of the society (Solimano, 1998). The discourse on the nature and consequences of capitalism, as it relates to inequality, has been largely dominated by key political thinkers, namely, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Erik Olin Wright, and others. Analysing Inequality Contrary to assumptions that inequality is inevitable, needed, and widely valuable, Karl Marx believes that capitalism only creates inequality. According to him, inequality appears in a society because some individuals and/or groups, especially those who have the means or capital, take advantage of or exploit those who only have their labour as a means of subsistence (Kendall, 2012). Basically speaking, the wealthy are wealthy because they exploit the needy. Marx observes that labour is the major source of value and the reason why some exploits and others are exploited. This unfair transaction takes place because of the unequal distribution of income or means of production which implies that only those who own the means of production benefit from wealth creation and the free enterprise. On the other hand, those who are poor do not have a choice but to work for or sell their labour to the owners of production (Kendall, 2012). This line of thought also states that capitalism’s productive value is hampered by an overwhelming interest in profit. In other words, Marx’s critique of capitalism mainly focuses on the social relations surrounding the mode of production. This Marxian approach is integral to the study of income inequality, for it explains the basic relationship between production and distribution. According to Mooney and colleagues (2010), the most definite aspect of Marx’s idea for breaking up the connection between production and distribution within capitalist society is to abolish the alienating and oppressive division of labour and build an economic system that creates multiple sources of income and promotes equal distribution of wealth. Erik Olin Wright is one of the contemporary political thinkers largely influenced by Marx’s concept of inequality and class. He adopts the fundamental Marxist idea that class must be characterised by the social relations that are inherent in capitalist societies. However, Wright formulates a more detailed class framework that more accurately illustrates contemporary class differentiation and the current relationship between inequality and capitalism. His framework focuses on the ownership of three major economic resources, namely, labour, capital, and means of production (Keister & Southgate, 2012, p. 65). From this idea, Wright derives four classes. First is the bourgeoisie, or the capitalist class, who owns all these economic resources. It has power over labourers, owns substantial capital, and controls the most important means of production. Second is the manager class which is composed of managers of major business organisations who manage business activities but do not have control over ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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