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Inequality and Social Class - Research Paper in Sociology

7 pages
1712 words
Boston College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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In the modern United States, there is an alarming rate of social class inequality. The United States has the most miserable people, and at the same time, it has the most productive people. This fact explains the meaning of social status or class which refers to individuals who have similar wealth levels or influence (Bourdieu, 1987) . In the United States, there are several social classes which range from the elite, middle class, lower class to the poor. The issue of social class has been much debate in the United States. Despite the debates that surround the social classes, it is essential to define the classes and analyze the effects they have in the society. The society has tried to appear like there are no classes but the fact remains that the social classes still do exist. With these social classes division among people, there is a widening inequality in the modern United States. In the essay, I will focus on illuminating the relationship that between the social class that one belongs in and inequality in the modern day United States.

Regarding the health and healthcare systems in the modern United States, there is a clear relationship between social status and inequality. The inequalities in health are mostly associated with the access to the healthcare (Marmot, 2005). It has been realized that individuals of lower socioeconomic classes are disadvantaged mostly in accessing the healthcare systems, health, and services. Since they have limited capital, the individuals of lower socioeconomic classes are always willing to accept any employment even if it has to expose them to health risks. While accessing healthcare services, most of the lower class people have to go for cheaper services that their pockets can support. The upper caste individuals, on the other hand, are always ready to pay any amount as long as they access the best kind of healthcare services. The inequality in the health care system due to social status comes in when the upper caste individuals are equipped with hospitals that are above standards with well-equipped personnel while the lower class individuals have sub-standards hospitals with physicians who are not well-trained.

Equally, the way of organization, especially into the social classes in the modern United States, contribute heavily to the health inequalities. Perry and Wright assert that the social classes division in the contemporary US is a great primary mechanism to the disparities in health (Marmot, 2005). Most countries that have not implemented the universal health care system are mostly the ones that are affected by the health inequalities due to the social classes' differences. The healthcare systems in the US are heavily privatized by the insurance companies or provided by the employer. Due to this privatization by the use of insurance companies, the healthcare providence is becoming dependent on the individuals' capital or well-being. Healthcare is moving from a right to a commodity that has to be purchased by the use of the private insurance companies. This organization of the healthcare in the US is greatly contributing to the inequalities in health among people who can afford to pay for the insurance. Most of the time, individuals from the lower social classes are not able to pay for the insurance. Most people of the lower apt to go without a medical coverage because they cannot afford it unlike the people of upper class. Only people with economic resources or wealth are now mostly the ones who can access the health care. To reduce the inequality of access to healthcare due to one's social status, Krugman believes in the fact that the health care system should be changed to favor everyone and not divide people in the society due to their economic abilities.

Within the modern day United States, it is clear that upper caste individuals have a monopoly over the desirables of a society or community and what they exactly do is use this monopoly so that they can dominate other. The school systems in the US are rigged, and the privileged are favored while the lower classes are tracked down by income and race to demoralizing and deficient classrooms (Rosenbaum, 1976). The schools where wealthy kids attend are well stocked in the libraries, but the poor kids are only lucky to have a library where they can go to study, and the libraries are not well-stocked. The facilities are equally not kept up-to-date for the students who come from lower social classes. They are equipped with poor services in the learning institutions. This does not only cause a conflict in the two classes but also results in the high level of inequality. Inequality in learning and accessing education due to the social class where one comes from. Experiencing such elements in society, there tends to be inequality, instability, and division within a community

A society where the resources available are unevenly distributed suffers social disparities. Social inequality is directly linked to the economic gap. Economic inequality is described based on unequal wealth or income distribution which directly is connected to the social status. According to Karl Marx, society has two classes. The two classes include the owners of the factors of production and the ones who offer their labor to the factor of production owners. The laborers, however, are paid poorly by the owners of the production means. The poor or the lower class individuals work so hard with little returns for their work from the owners of factors of production. They tend to remain poor while enriching the people who own the factors of production. In a society, there are the people who are dominant who the owners of production factors are, and there are those who survive at the mercy of the capitalists. This leads to inequality in the society where people are grouped according to the social classes.

Economic resources in the US have been endowed in plenty among selected few individuals (Domhoff, 2011). This has led to the division of the US into different social classes. The various economic conditions have adversely impacted the lives of the lower class individuals who are endowed with less financial resources. Each has a right of participation in the political system. However, due to division into social classes, the individuals from the lower class tend to shy away from participating in politics. The lack of participation in political affairs or policies by the lower class people is mainly attributed to the lack of economic resources. The upper-class individuals participate in the political issues because they are endowed with all the resources. The resources include; political skills, money, and time which are essential for civic participation.

Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist, researched the relationship between the social classes or status of individuals and the lifestyles as well as the consumption patterns. In his research, he found that the consumption of individuals varied significantly depending on the disposable income one had. The lower class individuals consumed less while the upper-class individuals had an opportunity to consume as much as they could because money or the disposable income was not a limitation to them. The upper-class individuals had enough resources while the lower class only ha little for survival. Bourdieu concurs with Weber and Marx's work that consumption of an individual substantially depended on one's class. Socials divisions are caused by the economic capital. When the lower class consume less because of their financial status and the upper class more because they are endowed with enough economic resources, inequality in consumption patterns is caused due to the social status of people. Regarding the individuals' lifestyles, the upper-class individuals tend to live a lavish and luxurious life; they can have all they would like to have. The lower classes, on the other hand, have learned to live with the little; limited lavish life, limited resources to have all they could want.

The relationship between social classes and inequality has been clear from there research. The question remains, who are we to blame for the lower class individuals because they seem the most disadvantaged with the inequalities arising from the social classes division. One approach of whom to blame for the lower classes' situation is the same poor individuals. They are indeed responsible for their situation because the modern US has a lot of opportunities for one to grab and better his or her life. The lower class individuals seem to lack the motivation to seize the opportunities for instance to school and find a job. On the other hand, the society is to blame for the poverty levels because enough jobs aren't created by the community for the people, and only the upper-class individuals get to grab the few opportunities available.

Honestly, social class has been the most significant source of inequalities in the US. We cannot deny that even in the societies today, social classes still do exist. The indicators of the class divisions range from the way one dresses, the accent, and also level and quality of education. People are still holding on to a belief that the noble people are better and should be held in high regards. Nowadays, according to the people, social class is not that important. The lower class people imitate all the upper-class lifestyle which we cannot refute. Indeed, for a society to work as a whole, inequality is hardly inevitable. No matter how fair the distribution of the available resources can be, everyone cannot have the same or equal resources. This is what keeps the society striving to be better each day. In any community, there are always those that have more than others. The only thing a society can do to eliminate the inequalities that arise from the social class divisions is to accord equal access to basic needs of all individuals like education, health, and even the opportunities. The inequalities can successfully be eliminated from the society yet there is social class division. This is indeed how the social classes and inequity are related.


Bourdieu, P. (1987). What makes a social class? On the theoretical and practical existence of groups. Berkeley journal of sociology, 32, 1-17.Cox, O. C. (1948). Caste, class, & race: A study in social dynamics. Doubleday.

Domhoff, G. W. (2011). Wealth, income, and power.Marmot, M. (2005). Social determinants of health inequalities. The Lancet, 365(9464), 1099-1104.

Rosenbaum, J. E. (1976). Making Inequality; the Hidden Curriculum of High School Tracking.

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