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"Imagine a Country" Essay
There is a high degree of social inequality within the United States. Of most modern industrial countries, the United Stated has some of the richest and some of the poorest people to be found. That fact is very disturbing, however, explains why much of the inequality exists in the US. In the following essay I will explain to you about the inequality in our country and why it occurs, based on the theoretical perspectives of a functionalist, conflict theorist, and social interationist.
Functionalist argue that stratification is "necessary and beneficial" to a society to ensure the highest qualified individuals will fill the best societal positions. Inequality in the distribution of desirables exist as a device for ensuring that the most important positions are filled by the most qualified people. Certain jobs are more important than others, and those jobs require special skill and talent. The cycle of unequal opportunity is intensifying, and the United States beneficiaries often slander those who are the most systematically undervalued, underpaid, underrated, as an undeserving, "underclass" lacking the proper work ethic (Holly Sklar). The functionalist feels that social inequality is necessary for the society to work as a whole.
According to the conflict theory on social stratification, those in the upper levels of a stratification structure hold a monopoly over the community\'s or society\'s desirables and the use of their monopoly to dominate others. In "Imagine a County", it reads about the US school systems that are rigged in favor of the already-privileged, with the lower caste children tracked by race and income into deficient and demoralizing classrooms. Public schools budgets are determined by property taxes, allowing the higher income districts to spend more money than the lower income districts. When talking about conflict theory, there are the bourgeoisie and the proletariats, which in this instance are the wealthy and the less fortunate. The wealthy schools are packed with well stocked libraries, and the poor schools are lucky to have up to date books. This not only causes conflict between the two "classes", but a high level of inequality as well. These elements of this society tend to contribute to the instability and inequality of this society.
Symbolic Interactionism suggest that humans define situations upon past experiences, and then act on those definitions. The legitimacy of the stratification structure is established and perpetuated through teaching beliefs to the young and enforcing those beliefs. Children are taught that ones place in the stratification structure is the product of effort and the will to succeed. In the US most of our children are taught that in order to succeed, you must graduate from high school and attend college. Based on the author of "Imagine a Country", though a college degree is necessary, it is not always necessarily sufficient to earn a decent income. In order for these definitions to change, our self concepts have to change as well. The level of an individual\'s sense of self worth affects the amount of rewards the individual feels entitled to receive. Based on the cultural poverty theory, those born poor will continue to be poor, because that is what they were taught. Therefore, that person will not work as hard, and will continue to stay at the bottom of the stratification structure.
If I were in the upper-upper class and had the authority and power, I would change the fact that the leading cause of injury is violence against women. Now this is assuming that I had that power, because there is really no reason to have so much domestic violence. Abuse on women accounts for more visits to the hospital emergency room than car crashes, muggings, and rapes combined. From a functionalists point of view, a society functions as a whole, which would not be possible without the women. We are half of the whole. Though I am taking this in light, I still feel that this is one of the most important situations that Holly Sklar discussed. I know that even someone in the upper-upper class would have a hard time changing this fact, but is a very important thing that should be addressed.
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Social inequality, Academia, Income distribution, Social systems, Structure, Sociology, Anthropology, Social status, Social stratification, Social class, Structural functionalism, Conflict theories
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