Compare the Functionalist and Marxist Views on Social Stratification

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CRITICALLY COMPARE MARXISM AND FUNCTIONALISM IN THE WAY EACH PERSPECTIVE CONCEPTUALIZES THE PHENOMENON OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION. Social stratification refers to the presence of distinct social groups which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such as prestige and wealth (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004). Those who belong to a particular group or stratum will have some awareness of common interests and a common identity. They also share a similar lifestyle which, to some extent, will distinguish them from members of other social strata (Lenski, 1984). Social stratification involves a hierarchy of social groups and they either enjoy or suffer the unequal distribution of rewards in society as members…show more content…
These provide the preconditions for the emergence of a class of producers and a class of non-producers (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004). According to Marx, the relationship between the major social classes is one of mutual dependence and conflict. The wage laborers must sell their labor power in order to survive since they do not own a part of the means of production. They are therefore, dependent for their livelihood on the capitalists and the wages they offer. The capitalists are dependent on the labor power of wage laborers, since without it there would be no production. This relationship however, is one of an exploiter and exploited or oppressor and oppressed. As such, the ruling class gains at the expense of the subject class which leads to a conflict of interest between them. From a Marxist perspective, capital, which is the money used to finance the production of commodities, is privately owned by the capitalist class. Marx believes that this capital is gained from the exploitation of the working class (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004). This he further argued, produced nothing as only labor was capable of producing wealth; yet still the wages paid to workers are well below the value of the goods they produce. Therefore the capitalists realize a surplus value or profit. The bourgeoisie are therefore exploiting the proletariat who are the real producers of wealth. Marx maintained that in all societies, the ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class. According to
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