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Life Chances Of Children in Modern Society

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In modern western society, individuals strive to achieve different things, e.g. wealth, social status etc. these are all known as commodities. Yet reality shows that these commodities are rarely distributed and are hard to achieve. (Stroud, 2011) In light with this, the ability or opportunity has to achieve these commodities are known as ‘life-chance’. The word life-chance was first introduced by Max Weber, he mentioned that ‘the wealthier you are, the higher your status and the greater your power, the better your life-chance is’, this shows that economic factor is key in influencing a person’s life-chances. Within the contemporary UK, life-chance has transformed as policy terms and developed as relatively idea of social mobility and equality of opportunities. There are various factors which can determine a child’s opportunity including genetic inheritance, family status and, education etc. In terms of children, they are usually regarded as innocent, which do not possess a high level of analytical skill, hence parents and family background are key in influencing a child’s life-chances.

Statistics show that there is a total of 679,106 live births in England and Wales in 2017. (Office for National Statistic, 2017) Yet, it is a doubt that these 679,106 babies would have the same life-chances. According to Plato’s theory, childhood is a matter of sociological lottery, located in class background, beliefs, values and, priorities of parents or careers they happen to have. Among all these factors, the class background is the main factor to determine a child’s life-chances. Nowadays, there appears to have a class system divided into three categories, including the upper class, middle class and, the working class. Instead, there is a saying about if a child is lucky enough to born within an upper-class family, he or she would have a higher possibility to own a better life-chances. Undoubtedly, the above saying exposed a cruel fact that the UK is still a long way from being a society of equal opportunity, yet the problem of inequality has rooted in the UK throughout its history, and have been recorded in many forms, while the biggest inequality that can be seen within the UK nowadays would be with income, which inaugurates the class differences in the UK and affect children’s life-chances. The following part of the essay will now investigate how the class background is as influential as ever on children’s life-chances.

Receives writes, life-chance could be broken down into both risk and resilience, there would be things which help to improve life-chance while others diminished. The following part of the essay will now investigate how class background triggers health inequalities and affect working-class children’s life-chances.

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It has been told for a long time that individuals from the lower-class background are at a serious impediment on various fronts. Their impoverished status creates a brunch of extra problems for their families. Besides, there is constrained subsidizing and a decline in access to medical help whilst the health inequalities found in varying social classes are galactic. In fact, the research explores that individuals from the lower-class background are unmistakably vulnerable to an immense range of health maladies. Studies show that children born in poor families would have fewer chances of survival, grow up with poor health and may die at an early age. A reason which explain behind would be the National Health Service(NHS). The NHS is formed in 1948, which provides ‘free’ medical, optical and dental services, serving 54.3 m of the total entire population. But still, some people, especially the upper class are not enjoying the NHS service. Veritably, the social stratification endures a significant gap inside the health care system, this might be a direct result of the two-tier system in the NHS where individuals who can stand to get private medical treatments gives them benefits of no queues, implying that they would not need to be on waiting list whereas people from lower-class background, whose require health services the most, are the one least likely to get them. (Julian Tudor Harts, Inverse Care Law,1971) In the UK, the percentage of patients waiting for non-cute surgery for more than 4 months is 36%, which is 7 times more than the US. This reveals that the waiting time of NHS in the UK is desperate, leaving the upper class to search for private health care such as BUPA, which is only available to those with economic stand. Joyce Robins, from Patients Concern, comments ‘the situation in the UK is both worrying and desperate, the British have been giving money to the NHS for the rest of their lives yet when they are in need, they found no help but themselves.’ (Joyce Robins, 2017) The average cost for premium private health insurance is 1435 pounds per year. (ActiveQuote) which is not commodities working-class children could afford, while children from upper class could enjoy more efficient and better treatment, allows them to have a ‘choice’ where they can pick their own advisor and the place they would like to deal with. Taking BUPA as an example, the private insurance includes a health assessment which gives a picture of your health and helps to identify any further risk so that children from upper class could hip it in the bud, adopt preventive measures to avoid from dying. The above phenomenon reflects that one’s limited finances contribute to the inability to acquire proper medical care which affects their health status and further limited their life choice. Sadly, research and statistics support the fact that good health is the key requirement for career and financial success, class backgrounds remains influential in children’s health, as well as life-chances.

Apart from health inequalities, class differences in educational attainment were also a feature of the British society throughout the 20th century and have proceeded to the present day. Education has been much influence in determining a child’s life-chance as ever, although there has been evidence indicates a reduction as of late, the gap between middle class and working-class children are undeniably significant which determines child’s success. Literally, parents of upper or middle-class children posse higher earning than working class, they grab the ability to send their children to private schools, enjoying a higher quality of education which promised their road to success. Eton College ranked top the hardest to get in and has been referred as ‘chief nurse of England’s statesmen’, promised a ‘bright future’ for students who entered. Nevertheless, the annual tuition fee would be 37602 pounds while the median annual income in the UK is 27271 pounds (Office for National Statistics, 2014) sarcastically. This indicates that children from poor families are excluded to grab the ability to achieve these commodities. Other elite schools such as the Harrows school, Winchester School, are educating fewer than 300 boys each year and become the Academy of the ruling class. Today, only 7% of the population attend private school, yet these private school pupils represent 74% of senior judges with high earnings. This shows that once a child is born within a family with a better class background, he or she is more likely to secure a fulfilling future and career. In other words, upper-class children ‘lead the game right from the beginning’. In contrast, Leon Feinstein (2003) suggested that upper-class parents tend to place a higher value on education, as they are more willing to spend their time on their children’s education, emphasis on taking up opportunities with potential advantages, whilst they possess strong economic stand to help their children apply different extra-curricular class such as dance class, instruments class, which boost their CV and raises their possibility to enter a stupendous nursery or even primary schools. In Fact, a child who enters a stupendous nursery is more likely to be accepted by a higher league table secondary schools, this exposed a glaring disparity that poor children’s life chances are resolved in primary school or even nursery. The issue continues to be problematic even with the introduction of comprehensive schools, statistics show that in 2008, only 35% of pupils who are eligible for free school meals obtain five or more A* in General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), compare to 63% of pupils from wealthier background. In light with this, the chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s expressed that, ‘Although there was progress in diminishing child poverty and have invested heavily in education, a child’s life-chance in Britain today remains strongly dependent on the background and earnings of its parents.’

In retrospect, children are normally associated with terms such as innocent, lack of agency and knowledge, they are being regarded as an inferior status compared to adults. Therefore, parenting style has a high degree in shaping a child’s life-chances also. Affluent parents who are delicately tuned to the child’s cognitive capacity could give an ideal environment which best suits the child for learning and further fuelled a child’s own inspiration which allows more self-directed learning and develops skills for white-collar jobs. In older stage, these parents are likewise to shape their children’s goals and inspiration by acting as a role model, setting an expectation for them, transmit the definition of ‘success’ and provide or choose ‘opportunities’ for their child. (Jodl et al., 2001). In light with this, some parents from upper class may adopt an ‘authoritative-parenting style'(Baumrind, 1991), they plan everything for their children and hope to confer advantages on their children while these commodities are build up by economic factors. Some extreme cases would be bequeathing property or arranging internships via personal contacts. Undeniably, is not the economic stand of parents accounted for working-class children starting race halfway around the track behind the middle class, instead, the social network of parents did. Sadly, people with higher class background are more likely to meet or make friends with individuals with professional occupations, this allows affluent parents to arrange internships for their children via personal contacts without competing with thousands of competitors, this illustrates the above saying, ‘life-chance could be broken down into both risk and resilience, there would be things which help to improve life-chance’, whereas the word resilience could be replaced by parents. In contrast, working-class children would struggle in repaying student loans, agonize about internships or even unemployment. Stuck in a vicious cycle with no ability to achieve commodities and success.

All in all, society has undergone a series of changes over the past 50 years, money plays a more important role in shaping the life-chances of a child. Using the money to purchase extra tuition, private health insurance could facilitate the opportunity of a child to achieve different commodities. Although there are various factors also shape, yet class background continues to be the key influencer and is as influential as ever. Sarcastically, the recent neo-libel agenda and government management prioritize the free will of individuals choice, yet, a child life-chance was significantly influenced by class-background but not the child himself. Class background hinders a child’s life-chances, limited working-class children from owning a healthy body, the schools they study or even their later life. Furthermore, there are extra goodies of documentation that infer individuals from the lower-class background are at a particular deprivation on their regions. This belief position admits that individuals in this group are unable to transcend because their opportunities are limited. Children from the working-class background are born with parents with lower sensitivity about conferring advantages on their children, less budget to provide private education and no natural spaces to truly work out the proper methods of good health. No matter which side of the coin we chose to associate ourselves with, the fact remains, children in prolonged financial destitution would have limited life-choice, probably not because they started out with less intelligence, but because they are trapped in the cycle with unhealthy body, fail in education attainment and ‘unwise’ parenting style due to lower-class background.

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Life Chances Of Children in Modern Society. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“Life Chances Of Children in Modern Society.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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