Even though there are many international organizations that seek to control economic inequality, there are still varying level of social inequality in all nations around the world. DURKHEIM’S THEORY Sociologists often refer to stratification as the process through which social inequalities are based on a hierarchy of different groups. Such hierarchies bring about unequal financial rewards in a society, as well as biased power structures. Ascribed status is descriptive of a situation where elevated social positions are accorded to people without any consideration about their characteristics. For instance, being male or female is an ascribed status. In contrast, an achieved status can only be attained by an individual through individual effort. In his views of societal structures, Emile Durkheim espoused the positivist tradition in that his examination of society was scientific and dispassionate. According to Durkheim’s functionalist theory, economic inequality actually has different functions in modern society. The functionalist scholars Davis and Moore stated that the existence of different levels of expertise, ability, and knowledge are actually beneficial. This is because the resulting unequal financial reward system contributes towards ensuring that the people chosen to fulfill different responsibilities are the ones that are most qualified. According to functionalism, this system also stimulates people to desire to realize even greater academic achievements- which, in the end, benefits the entire society. If medical surgeons were not the recipients of big salaries, for instance, they would not be adequately inspired to forgo social activities for years of seemingly endless medical training and subsequent long hours in hospitals. Durkheim’s functionalist view of inequality in terms of financial wealth contributes some positive factors to any society. Even though the underprivileged classes in most societies are viewed negatively, functionalism suggests that having a group of low-paid employees means that there will always be a workforce that is ready and able to carry out tasks that the other classes in society refuse to do. The institution of poverty also ensures that there is employment for others in all offices that have to do with welfare. The poor class, which is mostly made up of women and minorities, also consumes inferior products like old and used vehicles, as well as dilapidated homes. Functionalism would also seek to state that unequal pay also benefits the larger society by ensuring that talented and skilled workers are discouraged from pursuing mundane jobs. Their seeking of more well-paying jobs ensures that there is increased efficiency and productivity within the society. A social functionalist will perceive the economic discrimination experienced by minorities as an unavoidable result of a society that trains people to make a distinction between wealthy or middle class people and the poor. Prejudice naturally results in discrimination, and if this becomes evident, a functioning society will seek to encourage social cohesion by encouraging debates on the issue or by employing institutionalized reform to address the issue in a way that highlights the greater good. For instance, in the sixties, when social revolt was inspired by the civil rights movement, a type of social cohesion was born out of the chaos by individuals who sought to use the society’s angst in positive ways. Figures on Income Disparity.
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