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How Does Sociology Help Us To Understand 'class' As An Important Social Phenomenon?

675 words - 3 pages

How does sociology help us to understand 'class' as an important social phenomenon?Sociology emerged in the nineteenth century as an attempt to understand the transition from traditional to modern society. Many argue that class is no longer important as a social phenomenon as an individual's identity are based more on status and cultural factors such as lifestyle, values, intelligence, education. Others argue that class is still a central influence on people's lives, that it affects their life chances. They argue that class inequality exists and that such inequalities are widening rather than narrowing. The major perspectives historically have been Marx and Weber who have provided their views and support for the idea that society is class-conscious. Other theorists, such as Clark and Lipset challenge Marx and Weber theory and believe that class is not an important social phenomenon. The common stratum model of class divides society into a simple hierarchy of working class, middle class and upper class. Class is an important social phenomenon that exists in society and through sociology we are presented with a variety of concepts and theories that contribute and support our understanding of the classes. A class system "refers to a social group, defined in terms of its economic position in a hierarchy of inequality and with material interests that differentiate it from other classes." (Van Kriken; Habibis; Smith; Hutchins; Martin; Maton, 2014, P.205). The most common being the upper, middle and working class. Marx introduced that first systemic theory of class, capitalism. His theory was focused on capitalist society's that produce and thrive on class divisions. "For Marx, class is not simply a way of classifying a population but defines capitalist society" (Holmes, Hughes & Julians, 2014, pp.60). In Marxist theory, the class structure is characterized by the conflict between two main classes. The ruling class as know as bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, and the working class who must sell their own labour power. The lower class is "exploited" by the upper class: wealth is transferred from producers to owners. The Bourgeoisie increases his wealth by abusing his workers...

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