Basic Sociological Concepts On The Relevance And Role Of Social Class In Society

Submitted By noi2013
Words: 1292
Pages: 6

Basic Sociological Concepts: Functionalism and Marxist perspectives on the significance and role of social class in society

Functionalist perspective:

The founding father of Functionalism, Emile Durkheim, “David Émile Durkheim. April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French sociologist,social psychologist and philosopher. He formally established the academic discipline, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.” Craig J. Calhoun (2002)

Durkheim argued class status and stratification existed for the functions or benefits of a healthy, cohesive working order of society. Some of the beneficial,not so beneficial and functional aspects are outlined:
Wealth (Moral),
Division of labour among society,
Specialized occupational divisions characterized distinctly by the differing skills, functions and abilities,
Members of a Functionalist society are happy to take their places within these divisions due to the socialized notion of moral worth or value placed on their respective status,
The continued belief in value consenus, shared values and beliefs,
Members of society are accepting the legitimacy of the stratifications placed on them,
Setting caps or glass ceilings on behaviour deemed as being overly competitive within respective class statuses,
Social mobility,
Just getting on with it,
Pushes the virtue of education, skills, talent.

Durkheim also stated that if within the society its members are herded in certain directions and are then unable to freely strive and compete for better/more lucrative roles, jobs as an example of being forced into stereotypical patterns of work e.g. manual labour, clerical etc.

This would be seen as a glass ceiling hanging over individual aspirations, could potentially cause certain members of society to become resentful, lose their drive to succeed, detrimental to moral, value consensus and overall could result in an negative spiral of individuals becoming disheartened, resentful leading to the lessening societal consensus and solidarity of the local populace groups may disintegrate over time furthering onto future deviant behaviour & social disorder.

Another lesson from Durkheim states that opportunities given/taken for education (higher education specifically), qualifications are vital for success.
Acquiring useful skills gives individuals greater elements of choice in deciding their pathway in terms of lifestyle, career. This in itself solidifies their moral (conscious, taught by socialization) commitment to the rules of their society.

Durkheim also believed that when a system is regarded as fair and just, individual members of society will remain balanced in their contented state as long as everything remains as such.
Even to this 'fair' society there are potential problems lurking e.g. capped freedom on competition for jobs and the use of ascription based on ethnicity and gender leading to conflicts.

The relative peace of Functional society would be effectively disturbed by sizeable shifts/changes in society, such too much power/wealth at one end of the social spectrum.

These changes would destabilize society, individuals expectations of the system by any form of dictatorship leading to a severe case of nepotism throughout, this would certainly fuel resentment and create conflicts as privileged individuals would be taken on to elite occupations based solely on patronage and sudden downturn regarding employment and deflation of wages i.e. recession.

Marxist perspective:

By looking at the work of Karl Marx we are given the reasons for society’s continued motion as the stale yet infallible conflict between the polar classes. The powerful wealthy elite holding reign over the subjugated poorer bulk of society, majority of which are destined to live out their lives of 'grateful' servitude to their elite masters. These