Sociology Sociology is the scientific study of human social life, social groups and society as a whole. The sociological imagination provides us with a way to view, understand and affect the world in which we live, involving sociologists in taking a broad view having the ability to stand back and question all that society takes for granted. It attempts to be able to see the strange in the familiar, also to be able to think outside our own experiences and look at them anew. Racism can be classified as prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race or ethnic background on the belief that or race or ethnic group is superior to another.
It has been suggested that social inequality is a feature of all human societies Haralambos and Holbornp. Sociologists have identified a number of different forms of stratification systems existing in other societies or historic periods, for example, the caste system in traditional India, slavery and feudalism Bilton et alpp.
From a study of other systems it is clear that not all systems of stratification are organised in terms of social class; the caste system for example was stratified in terms of status.
Bilton et alp. For Marx there were two distinct classes in society; the capitalist class, who own the means of production, and the working class, who own only their labour power which they sell to the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie, in return for wages.
Marx believed that the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the working class was one of exploitation; the bourgeoisie exploit the working class as the wages workers receive for their labour is a fraction of the market value of the products they produce.
Marx felt that the conflicts of interest inherent in capitalist societies would eventually lead to its downfall and to the emergence of a communist society. He believed that once the working class realised the true nature of their exploitation they would Free sociology essays up and overthrow capitalism.
Another classic sociologist, Max Weber, agreed with Marx that social classes develop when individuals compete in a market economy for economic resources; however he saw other factors as equally important in understanding class composition and divisions in society. Weber identified four separate classes in capitalist society; the propertied upper class, the propertyless white-collar workers, the petty bourgeoisie and the manual working class Haralambos and Holbornp.
For Weber, as Haralambos and Holbornp. Different occupations offer different skills, and skills that are highly valued or in demand will lead to greater rewards. In this way, social class may be determined by occupation and skills, as opposed to the relationship of individuals and groups to the means of production, because economic rewards affect lifestyle and life chances.
Weber also saw as important in the formation of social groups the concepts of status and parties. Status and party groups may or may not belong to, or serve the interests of, the same social class.
This idea is obviously in contrast to the ideas of Marx, who argued that the working class would one day recognise their shared situation of inequality and oppression and come together as a homogeneous group to overthrow the forces of capitalism.
Marxists argue that Weber placed too much emphasis on market position, neglecting the most important class division between the capitalists and the working class. Marxists have also argued that status divisions are closely linked to class divisions, that is, the class in possession of the greatest proportion of property and wealth will necessarily also possess greater status and power.
Despite these criticisms, the theories of Marx and Weber have proved an influential basis for most modern sociological theories of class.
The problems inherent in identifying the number of different social classes in modern society are many and varied and include broad questions of ontology, as well as detailed ones of definitions and boundaries. Occupation is the most common indicator of social class used in present times, but scales vary as to the number of classes identified and the definitions of each class in terms of occupations.
Most scales, however, recognise an upper, middle and working class. The underclass is comprised of individuals who are unemployed, or have never worked or who have a particularly weak position in the labour market.
Members of this class include single parents and ethnic minorities, but Runciman argued that it was not their status that placed them in this class but their reliance on state benefits.
In general, however, most sociologists have tended to draw on one or other approach and these sociologists are referred to as neo-Marxists or neo-Weberians.
Neo-Weberians such as David Lockwood, however, challenge this view. Lockwood used Weberian concepts such as market, work and status situation in his study of clerks to argue that, while wages for this group had begun to drop below that of skilled manual labourers, their market position in terms of job security, promotion prospects and benefits still gave them an advantaged position.
Other criticisms of Marxist theories of proletarianization include the theory of embourgeoisement. Due to rising living standards among the working class, it was argued, increasing numbers of this group were effectively joining the middle class.
While there are numerous debates surrounding the existence or otherwise of an underclass or a middle class, and even debates as to whether there remains an upper or ruling class in society, one thing most sociologists agree on is that social class is a system of stratification defined by the unequal distribution of social advantage.
While the key debate between neo-Marxists and neo-Weberians appears to centre around questions of social class composition, the underlying issues they seek to address are those of class inequality. Social class, then, is not simply a label applied for convenience in society to differentiate between social groups in terms of similarities and differences in occupation, lifestyle or attitudes; it is, rather, a system of inequality of opportunity.
Marxists and Weberians generally agree, despite the claims of other sociologists such functionalists, new right theorists and postmodernists, that there remain substantial inequalities between different social classes. Social and Cultural Forms of Modernity. Polity Press in association with the Open University.
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The best sociology essay starts with a great idea from the world around you. Every sociology course addresses issues that deal directly with human needs and addresses a variety of social needs.
Sociology essays can be about nearly anything that people might think about; however, for your course, it may be more specific. The roles of nature (what we genetically inherit) and or nurture (what we learn) in making us what we are have long been argued.
The idea that humans are determined by these two influences dates back to the ancient Greek philosopher Protagorus who in the fifth century BC compared physics (nature) and nomos (tradition). What is Sociology?
Sociology is the attempt to understand how society works. It studies the relationship between people, how those relationships form part of broader sets of relationships between social groupings, and how such groupings and institutions are related to the under society.
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