Unemployment from a functionalist and conflict perspective

2206 Words Sep 23rd, 2004 9 Pages
Lucianne White

Assignment 1

Approaches to



Sociologists study human society. Their subject matter includes human behaviour in various social contexts, social interaction, social institutions and organisation, social change and development (Haralmbos, Van Krieken, Smith & Holborn 1999). For this reason, unemployment is an issue which sociologists delve. Unemployment has far reaching affects in all areas of society. Stratification in the areas of age, race, class, gender, ethnicity, sex and disability is rife amongst the employed and unemployed alike, unemployment creates further segregation amongst these already stratified people. This essay will look at unemployment from the functional and conflict theory
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For Karl Marx (1818-1883), the transformation had to be understood primarily as a change in the economic structure of societies; a change in the means by which economic production was organised from a system called feudalism to one called capitalism (Willis 1999). Marx was a man looking to understand society, he followed many different paths and was alienated many times for his ideas. His theories on value and surplus value, accumulation, exploitation,

pauperization, crisis and appropriation, class struggle and revolution made no immediate impact on the workers' movement, until after his death in 1883 (Rius 1999).


We are entering a new phase in world history - one in which fewer and fewer and fewer workers will be needed to produce the goods and services for the global population...For the whole of the modern era, people's worth has been measured by the market value of their labour...now new ways of defining human worth and social relationships will need to be explored (Rifkin 1996). Life has changed, globalisation and feminism have had a huge impact on the work environment around the world. Technology has also made many jobs redundant. Unemployment has become an issue all

around the globe, explanations of this phenomenom are plenty. How does unemployment serve a purpose, or is it just another chance for the powerful to stamp on those with less power? The
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