Sociology inequalities race class gender

Sociology inequalities race class gender

The society has social and political institutions which hold key position in defining the behavior of individuals at the group level or individual level. These form essential constituents of the resources needed by the individuals to enable them survive in the society. People’s lives and actions are by far shaped by the social structures the people find themselves in. therefore, a social structure can be seen as the arrangement of the society in terms of political ideology, material and social norms, values and culture or institutions. These are the aspects of the society which the structural functionalists argue that are needed in the society to ensure that the society functions properly. The proposition that components of social structure are essential to guard proper functioning of the society sprouted when proponents of social functionalism observed structural laws work.

Conflict theory of inequality puts substantial emphasis on the importance of the social inequality, the material inequality and the political inequality of the society’s social group. In essence, this theory downplays the ideology of both the ideological conservatism and structural functionalism. As such, the conflict theory of inequality criticizes the broad socio-political system. There are a number of theories that fall under the general umbrella of the conflict theory, though they perform the function intended by the conflict theory in a more specific perspective. Generally, these theories focus their interest on the power differentials and are clearly contrasting view when compared to the historically dominant ideologies.

Weber’s theory on social stratification can generally be looked as a conflict if a keen look into the substance of the theory is evaluated. First, Weber’s theory generally highlights how human behavior is conditioned by the contemporary social structures. On that level, Weber’s theory on social conflict clearly brings out the relationship between the structural relations looked at the level of social aspects of the society, the status of individuals in the society and their power impact on the human behavior as well the consciousness of individuals in the society. Weber evaluates the nature of this consciousness on the context of structuralism. On the other hand, while Weber was more concentrated on the effect of differences in status and the effect of inequality as relates to organized collective action, Marx devoted his time to strengthen an argument which led to the birth of his theory that advocated for the foundation of class in the process of organizing of production. According to the theory by Weber, the ability to assert control over various social resources gives the individual the ability to possess power in the society. The resources include social respect, physical strength, capital and land among other resources in the society that can provide an advantage for an individual in the society. These social resources are however unique in that they are extremely flexible and are also liable to change from time to time. Weber theorized that the society is organized in terms of the class power (or generally referred to as class), political power (called party) and social power. Marx and Weber however differed on the basis of their argument even though they both argued as social conflict theorists. Marx contemplated that the economic dimension is the most essential of all the dimensions that define the ability of an individual to possess the status power and political authority.

When people are born they enter into the society and learn the social structure of the society faster. When they reach the stage of working they become aware of the working of the already established systems in the society. After the individuals have acquired deep knowledge about the social structure of their society, they know the mode of behavior that the society allows. Nevertheless, the position held by an individual in the society as he or she grows within it does not affect the individual’s attitude. Market positions equate class position and hence give definition to the property ownership and the position held in the labor market.

Groups possess individuals who share common socioeconomic characteristics. These individuals interact with each other by these characteristics that are shared. The society can thus be viewed as a group that shares the common norms values or the culture to which the individuals in it identify with. In the same manner, there are institutions in the society which a break of the idea to a more micro- perspective level (Hum. 2002). Thus we can deduce from group the relationship to that exhibited kin the institutions. Just as the group has individuals who identify with common values, culture or norms, institutions are basically formed by individuals who share common values, objectives and a defining culture. In addition, institutions have particular structures that can be identified in them. For instance, some (and in fact, most organizations) have a hierarchical structure that defines how power is defined and shared in the institution. The members of the institution are made aware of the norms and those who are new to the institution must be oriented to the values and norms (Hum. 2002). Sharing these values and norms strictly defines the membership of an individual hence some institutions have policies to punish or expel those who cannot follow the requirements of the institutions.

Income and wealth have provided continuum upon which lour society defines structure. Therefore we see stratification in the structures such as upper class in the society which is a class comprising individuals with noble ability and command of wealth and income in the society. On the same level we have middle class and lower class who are individuals who command comparatively lower levels of power in respect to income and wealth.

Bowles and Gintis also proposed a theory in attempt to explain the social inequality with respect to the society’s educational system (Hum. 2002). Bowles and Gintis posit that the educational system, leads to the generation of inequality in the society and reproduces class through a hybrid mechanism. The Bowles and Gintis theory is therefore a model that can be see to comprise three basic elements (Bowles & Gintis 1987). First, there is a class system reproduced by a mechanism brought by the educational system. The second element is the occupational system which is exhibited by the well organized gradation of income that defines the status. Lastly, the third element is the actual educational system (Hum. 2002). The educational system has an organized gradation system showing a hierarchy of levels and statuses. These gradations define statuses both within a school as a group and between schools as groups that share some common characteristics.


Hum. J. C. (2002- 3rd Reprint) “The limits and possibilities of schooling: an introduction to the sociology of education” Allyn & Bacon

Bowles S. & Gintis H., (1987) “Democracy and capitalism: property, community, and the contradictions of modern social thought” 2nd Edition, Routledge