The reality of the existence of persistent trends in social stratification expounds the inevitability of social inequality. Sociologically, the existence of social structure is an important phenomenon and it reflects the diversities in persons in attaining access to resources in the society. Eventually, the quest for access to the resources trickles down to a society divided in tandem to the potential of access to the resources; the poor, middle class and the rich. Categories informed by the stratification of persons in terms of gender, age, social class, ethnicity, family status, origin, disability and religion are manifested in parenting, education, work, health, political participation, economic prowess as well as geographical or citizen status.
The forms of inequality pit insights into established cultural discourses and extend to life expectancy in the society as well as conflict and developments in the society. Eventually, it becomes a battle for wealth, prestige and power with the rich, once considered, occupying the affluent positions at the expense of the poor. Consequently, in degrees of social ranking, the rich rank highly and exercise control over scarce resources, thus are associated with better living standards in comparison with the poor who are associated with squalid lifestyles marked by continued scarcity of basic necessities. To appreciate social inequality, in-depth analysis, into the forms of inequality and how it is manifested in the society as well as the effects of inequality, would be imperative. Through an integrated approach, this paper seeks to establish how these forms of inequality impact on the varied aspects it is associated with.
To begin with, social status, a construct of the human mind, is a factor that leads to social inequality. Societal stratification categorizes persons in relation to the hierarchy observed under the upper class which is composed of the rich ruling and capitalist persons; the middle class composed mainly of the working persons and commonly referred to as the proletariats and finally the lower class which has the persons of low income as well as the unemployed. By extension persons with lower levels of education belong to this class though it is not imperative. The social classes are defined by the quality of life; access to healthcare, quality of education and even the recreational activities these persons engage in. The lower class, made up of the poor struggle to attain even the basic of necessities as compared to the rich. Eventually, they look up to the rich for survival, gaining either through the economic and social integration programs which ostensibly have more benefit to the rich.
The rich also dictate the political trends and wealth distribution patterns. In a corrupt society like the third world countries, the rich have influence on the employment opportunities, mostly favoring their own people at the expense of more qualified persons but whose background does not speak of wealth. Parenting is not a burden to the rich as compared to the poor as children from rich backgrounds have access to basic amenities. However, the poor struggle to earn each cent and it is never enough to cater for the rising needs, which comes with the rise of the cost of living. the quality of education that the rich have access to is more flattering to the poor who depend mostly on government policing and even struggle to live let alone get their siblings educated. This is compounded by the living conditions which are never favorable for upbringing of children. Finally, social stratification has the rish access the best health care, mostly from private practitioners whilst the state has to struggle to establish a scheme for the poor.
Gender inequalities are the most pertinent type and are informed by the patriarchal orientation of the society. Biases and prejudices in relation to the masculine or feminine nature of persons are based on long standing social constructs which place the man at a level higher than the woman. Indeed, the man scores higher on a scale of performance as compared to the woman who is perceived to be weaker. Such prejudices contribute to the opportunities offered to persons and may lead to subjecting a person to poverty or wealth. Although the modern society has committed itself to solving this problem even through the constitutions, numerous aspects of gender stereotyping remain rooted in the practices. The gender orientation informs participation in politics and also the chances to get into the highest professional positions.
Race and ethnicity have long been associated with social inequality, with certain races being perceived as superior and others being taken as inferior. The dominance of white people in this arena is evident in the manner in which whites are treated in the work, entertainment, political and economic scenes. The prejudices therefore put them at a better position especially in getting well paying jobs and securing promotions. This is not the case with Asian or African persons who are basically perceived to be inferior. This notion was used during the annexing of colonies and the colonialists perfected the art of divide and rule which ultimately contributed to the struggle for a race to be superior rather than inferior. The animosity bled by the notion of ethnicity and gender goes as far as the social and economic arena where opportunities and decisions consider ethnicity and race as a major factor. In addition, social amenities and even basic needs go in accordance to race with whites getting the quality share while the other races go for the remainder. In the labor market, whites succeed faster in securing jobs as compared to the other races evening multinationals operating in countries outside their country. Race issue is so prevalent such that immigration for whites is quite easier as compared to the other races especially if moving to white dominated regions or countries.
Family status and background also inform inequalities. In essence, the quest to be accepted into the society, which does not commence on the individual perspective but rather is hinged on the family perspective, an entity within which one is related to. The family status dictates the kind of relations existing with neighbors as well as the interactions. For mutual satisfaction, sociology scholars agree on the essence of a feeling of belonging, a basic need ranked third in accordance to the Maslows hierarchy of needs (Clinton H. 123). In addition the family background based on the health history, educational history and economic history play a vital role in ensuring access to opportunities. A perfect example is the George W. Bush example where his reliance on the exploits of his father enabled him ascent to the highest seat in World politics. The environment in which he was brought up really did influence his eventual success in politics. However, not all times the background will need to be essential as in his case individual brilliance was also of essence.
Finally, economic or financial inequality, which many argue is not a form of inequality that should be classified under the social inequality. The decision to include economic or financial inequality is because it goes a long way in determining social stratification. Modern governance practices seek to ensure equal opportunities are accessible to all in a bid to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, it is the rich who own the vast of finances and have access to most of the responsibilities due to their influence in the government.
Ultimately, the disability and religion In the world (western world again it is hard to except but any sociological text book will tell you this). White males are at the top of the hierarchy. White people are much more likely to get into better-paid profession than Asians or Africans. This is partially due to stereotyping. This is the main reason why it affects the life of different races. Look at they way white people are portrayed in the media compared to blacks especially in the news. Therefore Asians and Black people struggle for promotions and higher paid jobs therefore they suffer a lack of money which contributes to the things I mentioned in paragraph 1. Black people usually are in a negative light.
Another factor is housing. It is a fact that the majority of good housing goes to white individuals in comparison to others. This is an area that really all I can say is due to prejudice and stereotyping by the media. If you don’t believe me if you asked someone who they would rather have as a neighbor a white male or a Jamaican the majority would go for the white male because individuals would have this prejudice towards Jamaicans because they are portrayed in the media as drug users and trouble makers which is untrue. I know many Jamaicans who are brilliant people and have never taken drugs. This goes along way to show how powerful the media is.
There are various effects of social inequalities in the society. Social inequalities result in racial or ethnic intolerance, political and economic marginalization. The principles of good governance that forms basis for democracy are eroded and a breakdown of social decadence is inevitable. When a section of human beings are treated with indifference due to existing social inequalities, some kind of social revolution begins. History is full of instances where the poor has toppled the rich from positions of power. Paul speaking of social revolutions says the following about Russian revolution
“But they appeared to exist in Western Europe, which, consequently, was part of the world in which socialist revolution could conceivably take place. A Russian revolution could lead to the overthrow of Tsardon and the institution of Bourgeoisie rule.” (Paul, 199)
Social Inequality is capable of incapacitating the majority of population and to reduce them into masses of beggars with no power to fend for themselves. This marginalization as seen in many poor countries leads to the creation of a few millionaires and the rest become million beggars. Social chaos arise where theft, rape, murder, incitement and anarchy toll the day. The breakdown of society is inevitable in countries, which sustain a culture of ethnicity, nepotism, impunity and corruption. Most underdeveloped countries exprerince strifes or every nature, including dictatorial leadership with no social balance and considerations, children are exploited and abused, the poor do not get justice and are often gambled upon by the rich depending on the cards on the table.
In conclusion, the social inequality involves an exclusion of the majority members of the society by a few powerful lot from the decisions, choices, plans and ultimate development of the society. The resulting scenario is that of precipitating classes in the society, ranking some individuals high above others. The evils attached to this marginalization result to the wanton breakdown of the society and the ripple effects of these are varied and long lasting. The society cannot function unless all members are factored in the sharing of the national cake.