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Is social class still a useful concept for understanding the divisions in society - Essay Example

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Is social class still a useful concept for understanding the divisions in society

Social class is the most widely used term in sociology which refers to the primary structure of social stratification broadly used for defining the modern capitalist societies. Social stratification has given rise to inequality in the society. It clearly defines the privileges that are enjoyed by the most advantageous individuals (Fulcher and Scott, 1999). However, Haralambos and Holborn suggest that social inequality is the most prominent feature of all the human societies. From the beginning of the formation of the human societies, this system of social stratification has prevailed as the most important component of the human societies. According to Bilton et al, (1994), traditional Indian caste system, feudalism and other societal systems based on caste and status are the most highlighted and the distinct societal structures. In human societies, individuals are classified on the basis of their economic power, distribution of wealth and other materialized advantages they enjoy. These factors have given rise to the development and division of social classes. According to sociologist Karl Marx, to understand the structure of social strata it is highly important to know what constitute social inequality in a system. For Karl Marx, class stratification was of important value and he thoroughly argued that all societies were established on the basis of class system except for the most primitive ones (Fulcher and Scott, 1999). Karl Marx further adds that all class struggle has always existed in the history of all the societies. According to Marx and Engles (1848), class struggle is the important component and almost all the societies go through this phase of struggle. Marx has always classified the structure of the society on the basis of class system. According to him the society is divided into two basis classes; the capitalist class. This class possesses the capacity of production and the working class which possess labor power. The labor class sells their services to the production class in return of wages. Marx has highlighted the exploitation caused by the capitalist class to the working class in terms of the wages paid to them which is just a fraction of their services they put in making and raising the value of the products they sell in markets. Marx believed that the capitalist class earns their profits and other benefits at the cost of laboring class. Labor class is deprived of their fundamental rights and benefits by the capital class as they hold power, wealth and prestige over them. He further believes that this trend would eventually lead the capitalist class to turn into a communist society which in other words, it will be the downfall of the capitalist class. According to Marx, economic structure is the important element in structuring the social classes. However, Haralambos and Holborn (2004), different groups in the society are emerged from the rise of different classes and hence, this has given rise to inequality in the society. Marx Weber also agrees with the opinion of Karl Marx that competition in market to gain economic resources and other benefits among individuals that has further given rise to different social classes. According to him, other factors also play an important role in the better understanding of composition and division of class system in the society. According to Weber, the class system is divided into four types in a capitalist society (Haralambos and Holborn, 2004). Bocock and Thompson (1995) highlights the Weber?s idea in which he agrees with the opinion of Karl Marx that the division of major classes is between the capitalist cl ...Show more
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Social class is the most widely used term in sociology which refers to the primary structure of social stratification broadly used for defining the modern capitalist societies. Social stratification has given rise to inequality in the society. …
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