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Essay on Social Class and Inequality

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Example Essay on Social Class and Inequality

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”1 These words were articulated by one of the founders of the society, which was planned to become one of the most democratic and freest countries in the world. Has it really become like this, i.e. to what extend should society get developed to become really equal?

The society itself is a structure of the social divisions. The society may be formed either according to a class division or a caste one. These divisions may penetrate each other but basically the frames are outlined properly. The caste division of the society contradicts completely to the basic principle of the American society that was expressed by Thomas Jefferson. The difference between the caste division and the class one is that the first presupposes the hereditary affiliation with this or that social group.

Social mobility describes the movement or opportunities for movement between different social groups, and the advantages and disadvantages that go with this in terms of income, security of employment, and opportunities for advancement etc.

In really democratic society the social mobility is possible and occurs now and then. On the other hand the lack of the social mobility indicates the lack of the opportunities for different social classes and the absence of democracy. In this case the classes are more like castes characterized by the hereditary attributes, inability to move from one caste to another one etc.

The movement between the social classes is possible and is one of the engines of the social development. People trend to perfect themselves and the perfection is associated with their welfare very often. The welfare is the dominant feature indicating the membership of this or that social class, thought such approach is little bit simplified.

The main criteria of the social class are occupation or property. The class system presupposes certain inequality. This inequality is natural and is the dominant factor of the class movement. People try to improve their social position by moving from the class to class. One of the main features of the class is the education of its members. This is the main factor that defines the belonging of the society member to this or that social class. Some universities having the firm traditions strengthen this characteristic. It is rather understandable and explainable considering that the people of the definite class may afford to send their children to a certain university. In this case we are facing some sort of discrimination according to the class principle. But on the other hand it is naturally that there are different universities for the people with the different levels of income. Another point is more important. The system of education though is characterized by certain class features, does not cut off the opportunities for the graduates from the other universities. The system of education is developed in such a way that the graduates from various universities get the same scope of the basic knowledge. If someone wants to achieve ultimate results in his professional activity that does not much matter what university he has graduated from.

The more, final belonging to this or that social class depends upon the professional career of the person. Such career, no doubt depends upon the education, or it is better to say which university the person graduated from. But the most important factor is the professional self-development, utilizing the principle of the equality of the society members declared by the Fathers of American democracy and which is the main principle of the American democracy now. The society provides the opportunity for choosing any social class. In other words sometimes it is not easy to climb to the upper class. It is necessary to correspond to certain requirements to take the position of CEO and the professional factor is the major one. If we recollect the American history we may find plenty of examples when the talented people joined the upper class of society. That situation was typical with Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan and other outstanding Americans.

The dynamic economy of the US is characterized by the highest degree of the income mobility3. Such mobility is observed in both directions, to the upper levels and to the lower ones. It supports the thesis of the equal opportunities for all. Such dynamics shows the difference between the class society and the caste one, where the position in the society is defined by the hereditary, ethnic and other principles. Such situation is observed in India and in the majority of African countries where the social position is defined by the tribal criteria, i.e. the people originated from some dominant tribal groups have more opportunities to achieve the better position in society.

Class mobility is undoubtedly a consequence of the income mobility. Income criterion is the main evaluation of the class belonging. A brilliant American writer Doctorow in his novel Ragtime describes the raise of Henry Ford that was initially due to his engineering talent and not due to belonging to some high social class at all.

There is another question, should social inequality influence such basic human needs as shelter, needs for food etc., i.e. basic physiological needs. There is no doubt that the government being the collective ruler should provide its citizens with the basic needs, needs for survival etc.

The income or class inequality has existed in all the times and societies. One of the most important things in the study of the class inequality should be how far such inequality should go. The basic rights and freedoms cannot be violated by the class inequality. At the same time the society’s members should realize that some of the freedoms give the opportunities and the government’s concern is to provide these opportunities. On the other hand such rights are declared as the opportunities of the citizens and not the obligation of the government to provide people with shelter, high income etc. Government should apply its utmost authorities to release the possible consequences if the rights are not realized in the full scope.

Jonathan Kozol in his brilliant book “Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America” raised the problem of the homeless in America. The main idea of the book is to reveal another, dark side of American life. He narrates the lives of the homeless people. There is some kind of a blame of society in his book. The problem exists, no doubt. But could this problem be resolved by the equalization of all and everything?

The modern world history has already passed this stage. The main engine that provides the social development is the competition in the economy. The fall of the socialism system indicated that the equalization of everything cannot benefit the social development.

The book of Jonathan Kozol attracts attention to the problem of homeless people in the USA. This book is the message of concern that the urgent actions are needed to release the problem. Author reveals the world of the homeless with their needs, feelings, and private lives thus making his narration extremely realistic.

The government takes care of the people with the low income. According to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)4 certain actions are to be taken to release the position of the low income families. Act alongside with the aid presupposes certain obligations of people being the object of this Act. Thus, the financial assistance is restricted in time and the unemployed are encouraged financially to look for the employment.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Act adopted by the authorities regulates the financial aid for the needy families. The number of people getting aid under the TANF was 2,269,000 in FY 2000. The figures are quiet substantial and indicate the real concern of the US citizens’ welfare.

The welfare depends upon the family affairs. From the ancient times it was presupposed that the man in the family should bring the well-being. Nowadays the feminist movements, the accessibility of the education and significance of the women’s role in the society radically changed such approach. It would be wrong to say that the full families may achieve certain prosperity in the USA and single women cannot gain an important position in the society.

Now the times of the discrimination according to the sex principle may be considered the history. Both government and social movements protect the women’ rights. The latest indication of this is the appointment of the woman to the highest diplomatic post of the USA.

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