"Social class is the social structure position groups hold relative to the economic, social,
political, and cultural resources of society. Class determines the access people have to these
resources and puts groups in different positions of privilege and disadvantage. Class also shapes
language, dress, mannerisms, taste and other preferences"(Class notes). Social class can shape
life chances in that, those who have access to more, have more opportunities to achieve more.
If you live in poverty and attend subpar schools the chances you have to succeed become
greatly hindered. On the opposite side of this coin, if you have wealth and attend private
schools with greater education possibilities, the opportunities that you are afforded are greatly
increased. This also translates to adulthood where those that have an economic advantage
tend to also have social and political advantages that those with less do not have access to. All
of us fall into one category or another even though there are those special cases where people
transcend these categories in one way or another. Whether that be those that have much and
lose it or those that have little and either through hard work or luck(lottery winners) gain much.
In my particular case, just like everyone else, my social class has shaped experiences
throughout my life. As a child, my family lived in a "rough" neighborhood and I attended a
public school that was good but not the best. After a couple of years my father got a promotion
and we moved to a great neighborhood. Along with this promotion came a lot more money and
I began attending a private school. We were not rich but we were probably considered upper
middle class. Along with this movement in class the ability to have access to things such as a
private education and social activities became much more prevalent. The friends that I
had from my old neighborhood became lost in the transition because they were no longer a
part of the group of people I had become a part of. This is just one example of the inequality
that social class creates between groups.
There are various theories that deal with social class and inequality and two of them
that are prominent are the functionalist theory and the conflict theory. The functionalist
theory basically says that there is a need for a hierarchy in society to maintain some
semblance of balance. Therefore, inequality exists so that there is a group that has the
money, power, and position and there is the group that does not have these things.
According to this theory, if everyone had the same position in life there would be no balance
and cohesion. The functionalist theory requires people to run business and people to actually
do the work of the business. The conflict theory works on this basis as well, but focuses
more on the conflict that occurs...