It is a truth universally acknowledged that a society has numerous layers that separate people into different classes based on their wealth, gender, race, religion and ethnicity. Social inequality has gradually become a problem in North America which enhance the issue of poverty and social stratification in multiple aspects. The conflict theory by Karl Marx revealed that social stratification is not inevitable through numerous aspects. One of the opposing concept of conflict theory is functionalism which emphasizes the need for social inequality to maintain social order. In my opinion, social stratification is an avoidable outcome from capitalist growth which agree with Karl Marx’s conflict theory. The following paragraphs will illustrate how social stratification is not inevitable through my own and conflict perspective and why the functionalist perspective of social inequality is impracticable.
Economic inequality has always been playing a significant role in the issue of social inequality.
Society is split into different social classes such as the owing class, the middle class, and the lower class which different class possess different wealth, power, and prestige. In North America, the majority of wealth is controlled by the richest 1%, and many others are still struggling to pay rent, purchase food, and trying to find a work at a minimum wage. It is surprising to see that most people believe that Canada is a middle-class country that only a few people are wealthy, a few are poor, and the rest are in the middle. However, the real distribution is far from expected. The wealthy keeps being wealthier and the poor keeps being poorer. This increasing trend will escalate social conflict between upper classes and lower classes. Functionalists believe that substantial inequality is functional to the society which can promote motivation and hard work, and they states that the most important jobs in the society needs to be filled with the most talented and capable people. If everyone is paid equal, then people will just choose the easiest job since it requires least effort. However, the distinction between whether a job is important is vague. Each specific job has each specialized function. For instance, firefighters and police officers play a tremendous role in the city to maintain social order and safety of each citizen, and teacher’s job is to educate the youth. One cannot clearly distinguish the importance between these jobs. Conflict theory states that due to lack of job opportunities, many talented people are forced to work at minimum wage, and it believed that given enough and equal opportunities and resources, those talented people can perform at a better level. It is a fact that only competition can make society improve, so that people will work harder in order to move into a upper class. Society nowadays has progressed to the state that people can easily move to a higher class with hard work and decent education background. Most decent job opportunity in North America nowadays acquire applicants with a high education degree, and they emphasizes more on applicants’ ability instead of their family background or social class. In other words, when applying for a job, each individual are in an equal starting point. If the government issues policies that helps decrease the unemployment rate and improve local economies and industries to increase job opportunities, more talented and skilled people will be discovered and they can improve their living from their hard work and abilities.
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Gender inequality has been an issue in both Canada and the United States for centuries. Wage gap, gender-based violence, and discrimination are all typical issues of gender inequality. Although gender equality has been progressed significantly, study have shown that “women still make 74 cents to every dollar that a man earns and gender-based violence affects approximately half of all Canadian women, it begs the question of just how far we’ve come in terms of equality”(Global News). The number of women is scarce at top job position and overrepresented as minimum wage workers. “Men make up an overwhelming majority of top earners across the U.S. economy, even though women now represent almost half of the country’s workforce. Women comprise just 27 percent of the top 10 percent, and their share of higher-income groups runs even smaller. Among the top 1 percent, women make up slightly less than 17 percent of workers, while at the top 0.1 percent level, they make up only 11 percent”(Economic Inequality Across Gender Diversity). In my opinion, gender equality will eventually be reached . The concept of male dominance in the workforce and many other places has been too deep in society. For instance, when a couple has a child after marriage, it is more common for the female to raise the child at home and the male often work outside to make a living for the family. Such a situation has been changing as women starting to work outside and play a more significant role in the society. Conflict theory believes that many talented people are being neglected from high-paying job due to their gender, and gender discrimination is a common phenomenon in the workplace. However, there are numerous measures for a company to reach gender quality. According to an article on world economic forum written by Vyacheslav Polonski, there are five things can be done to alter gender inequality in the workplace such as “systematically gather data to establish common ground for a discussion of gender inequality in the workplace, change company culture to eliminate gender stereotypes associated with work-life balance programmes, modify the performance review process to prevent structural disadvantages for people who seize work-life balance opportunities, keep searching for potential recruits until gender balanced is reached, [and] make gender parity a strategic objective for the organization” (5 Things That Must Change to End Gender Inequality at Work by Vyacheslav Polonski). From above discussion, it is clear to see that gender inequality is not inevitable through everyone’s effort.
Racial inequality is similar to gender inequality in some way, but it is treated based on a person’s race. As mentioned before, conflict theory illustrates that people with talent and ability may be squeezed away from high paying job owing to their colour and culture. In the past centuries, African-American has a very low status in both Canada and United States, and there are numerous rules that limit their activities such as not allowing them to eat in certain restaurants and banned entrance to certain places. An Oscar-winning movie called Green Book illustrates the fact even the protagonist is considered to be in upper class, he still faced multiple discrimination along the way due to his black skin. But such situation has turned much better nowadays. African-American’s social status has been raised significantly owing to all the appeal and movements. As a result, many industries and fields can have talented black people working. Thus, social inequality is not necessary the main functioning element of society.
Fortunately, the society nowadays has worked hard trying to reach equality of each individual. There are numerous movements around the world concerning racial, gender, and economic issue, and more and more people are putting in effort to reach equality. Thus, it is clear to see that social stratification is not inevitable, and equality will be reached in someday in the future.