This essay will explain the social divisions concept, set forth evidence which illustrates how class affects life chances, and synthesize the studied material in order to describe how this notion of social divisions functions in terms of class.
As a preliminary matter, it is necessary to note that society is hardly uniform or harmonious. There are differences between and amongst people. There are divisions which are predicated on characteristics common to certain groupings of people. These distinct social groupings are almost certainly based on the common interests and shared experiences specific to these groupings.
From a sociological perspective, as stated by Braham and Janes (2002), "the influence of social divisions, particularly to those of class, gender and 'race'/ethnicityare usually seen as the core triumvirate of divisions of sociological concern" (p. ix). From this core triumvirate, however, a veritable industry of sociological scholarship has sprouted. Social divisions identified and examined more closely over the past twenty five years include social groupings characterised by their sexual orientation, their health status, their fitness or disability, their age, their country of origin, their religious orientation, and much more. What we are seeing, therefore, is a proliferation of social groupings. This proliferation, in effect, is the stuff of social divisions and inequality. That these social groupings exist is hardly interesting; the more interesting questions involve the particular meaning and relevance to accord these socially distinct amalgamations of people.
Social divisions is a comparatively new concept in the sociological discourse, functioning as Braham and James (2002) note as an "umbrella term" which incorporates previous sociological perspectives dealing with stratification, inequality, and access to economic and cultural resources by different social groupings. There has, in short, been an attempt to synthesize the prior sociological scholarship into a more meaningful and more cohesive focus of inquiry. More importantly, it is necessary to recognize these social divisions, based on certain differences, as being the product of social and historical constructions rather than a purely biological inheritance.
These social divisions are characterised by an interconnection with the various different groups; to study one group in isolation, without understanding how life chances are improved or hindered, is meaningless. From a theoretical point of view, we are examining the constituent parts of a living whole. One cannot, for instance, cut out a monkey's heart and then hope to study its brain with any prospects of success. In the same way, social divisions based on class must be related and linked more generally to other social divisions and differences holistically. The descriptive studies and the empirical data, dealing with place, lifestyle and life chances, are particularly illustrative.
The notion of a physical place, as described by Janes' and Mooney's (2002) reference to a variety of neighborhoods and communities, represents distinct locations where social divisions exist. More,