Last Updated 14 Jan 2023

Social Stratification Essay

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Social stratification has always been evident in society. From the works of Marx, to Davis and Moore, different sociologists have theorized why there is social inequality. In Brisbane, like the wider Australian society, suburbs can be mapped socially, showing the diverse nature of Brisbane. For this reason, this essay will attempt to prove through the definition of capitalism that Brisbane is a Functionalist society, not a Marxist society.

Social stratification exists in Australian society because people are individuals; individuals that have different life chances and belong to different social classes. "Social difference becomes social stratification when people are ranked hierarchically along some dimension, weather this be income, wealth, power, prestige, age, ethnicity, gender or some other characteristic." People with the same rank in society tend to have the same life chances. Fortunately in Australia we have social mobility. Social mobility defined as the possibility for individuals to change social class by own effort in an upwards or downwards direction.

In Brisbane, suburbs can be socially mapped. Three suburbs that have been socially mapped includes: Hamilton as an upper class suburb, Mount Gravatt as a middle class suburb and Inala as a lower class suburb. Each suburb has a certain amount of prestige. Inala had some run-down houses and was home to many government facilities. Mount Gravatt had a variety of houses. Hamilton had a private school, overlooked the river and had a castle. After examining the Australian Bureau of statistics 2001 census results for each of the above mentioned areas, trends began to emerge. It was discovered that the household size decreased as the social class increased, 2.2 in Hamilton, 2.3 in Mount Gravatt and 2.7 in Inala. However the median household income increased as the social class increased. $400-$499 in Inala, $600-$699 in Mount Gravatt and $1000-$1199 in Hamilton. These differences show the immense social stratification in Brisbane.

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These differences in Brisbane suburbs can be explained by the notion that Australia is a capitalist society. A capitalist society is an "economic system in which means of production and distribution are privately owned and development is propionate to accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market" In Brisbane we have owners of companies and small businesses, who gain the profits that the workers are making. This is reflected in the article 'Australian Capitalism and GST' which claims that the wealthiest 10% of Australians own 53% of the nations' wealth, while the bottom half only owns 3%. This shows that social stratification is obvious in Brisbane because "Capitalists economy promotes social stratification and that social equity is based on the economics of society." A revolutionary theorist that has changed the way the world thinks is Karl Marx. Marx founded the concept of communism. In a communist state there is no social stratification and everyone receives the same income and has the same life chances, regardless of their vocation. Though a fragment of Marx's theory does exist in Australian society that being workers uniting and forming unions, Marx's ideological dream of communism, where there would be no ownerships and everyone would have equal opportunities and thus having no social stratification. Marx also claims that there is only two social classes, which contradicts the social map of Brisbane, where there are at least three social classes.

A functionalist theory that contradicts Marx's theory greatly, is the Functionalist theorists Davis and Moore. Davis and Moore see social inequality as "inevitable". Davis and Moore believe that the "most able person must be attracted to the most important position", saying that someone is in a particular position and therefore social class because they were the most able person to do that particular vocation. This can create social stratification because some occupations in society are more respected than others for example; a doctor is given more respect than a garbage truck driver. Marx disagrees with this, while functionalists accept social stratification and social inequality. Hence because Australia is a democracy and Brisbane has social order, Brisbane is a functionalist society.

In conclusion, Brisbane's social stratification and social differences have made Australia a functionalist society. The acceptance of social stratification and capitalism has made Marx's social theory irrelevant to Brisbane and Australian society.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You can use it as an example when writing your own essay or use it as a source, but you need cite it.

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