Assess the functionalist explanations of social inequality

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Asses the Functionalist explanations of Social Inequality. (40) Social Inequality refers to any difference between groups or individuals in society which results in one having inferior life chances than the other. Functionalists believe these inequalities are the result of the meritocracy we live in. This is a system based on the idea that social stratification is necessary and desirable for the society. Functionalists argue that inequalities have a purpose; they are functional for society. Functionalism is a structural theory based on the notion that society is based on shared values. This consensus means that society will be in a state of equilibrium and there is harmony, as a result of which there will be social solidarity. …show more content…

There is not a consensus with regard to which are the most important jobs; for e.g. bankers are paid very well but most people would probably argue that nurses are more important to society. Some groups start with more power and status and are therefore are able to ensure they and their children get access to the education that will mean they then get a higher status jobs. Life chances are affected by status and wealth and the poor have less access to opportunity to gain access and wealth. Tumin argued that going to universities is not really a sacrifice, although many people in the UK would probably argue it will be as fees go up. The work of the functionalists is not supported by empirical evidence, particularly with regard to the idea that there is a value consensus. Marxism is based on the macro theory which, like functionalism, is concerned with the structure of society. Marxism explains inequalities in societies such as the UK by examining the ways in which the bourgeoisie exploit and oppress the working class or proletariat. Inequalities are a result of the economic arrangements people make to meet their basic needs. Bowles and Gintis used Marxist ideas to explain how the education system reproduced the ideas of the ruling class and legitimated inequalities. They argue students’ experience of schooling is an alienating one. School specifically prepares students for their future as workers in a capitalist system. They argue that school does not

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