Karl Marx's Approach To Social Inequality

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Social inequalities can be described as the differences in “income, resources, power and status” (Naidoo and Wills 2008, in Warwick-Booth 2013, 2) that advantage a social class, a group or an individual over another, and thereby establish social hierarchies. It also affects inequalities in regards to gender, race, access to health and education, and general living conditions. In sociology, the dichotomy between the conflict theory approach and the functionalist approach has led to a discordant opinion in regards to social inequalities. The conflict theory seems to admit that social inequalities needs to disappear in order to install a common and equal base for all individuals, whereas the functionalist approach believes that social inequalities…show more content…
It is argued that social inequality occurs because of the conflict between the upper-class and the working-class, or as Marx defines it, the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. Based on the Manifesto of the Communist Party (Marx and Engels, 1848), the divergence emerges because the aim of the Bourgeoisie is to obtain a surplus-value that is produced by the work of the Proletariat. On the other side, the Bourgeoisie provides the Proletariat with the minimum required, such as a place to live and a minimum wage, in order to keep the society under control and avoid a rebellion. However, Marx did predict a revolt of the working-class that would eventually lead to a communist regime. When it comes to applying this theoretical approach to reality, it is evident to notice that no global revolt in regards to capitalism has occurred. On the contrary, the capitalist society that Marx describes has only become greater in the global society. The disparity between the elite and the populace grows continuously, and the wealth of the first group surpasses the wealth of the second one. The elite has made the working-class into a class of consumption who nourishes its capital gain. This leads on to the global issue of social hierarchy. It establishes inequalities within economy, education and health that the poorest try to outdo, becoming unconsciously even more depended on the capitalist system, because they…show more content…
Amongst other notions, such as habitus, field and symbolic violence, Bourdieu developed the theory of capital, which he divided into four forms of capital, cultural, economic, social and symbolic (Wacquant 2007, 268) in order to explain the “realities of social inequality” (Gauntlett 2011). Regarding the notion of cultural capital, which to some extent is based on Karl Marx’s capitalistic approach when describing class struggle, Bourdieu mentions the “scarce symbolic goods, skills and titles” (L. Wacquant 2007, 268) that a part of society possesses. In fact, the elite detains cultural knowledge that they use in order to maintain their status in society, and keep their position above the working-class. Bourdieu also emphasizes how this scheme is reproduced within education, and thereby how social hierarchy not only occurs, but is also conserved (ibid, 262). Indeed, Bourdieu assesses that the educational system replicates the social inequalities that rely within society, which undeniably favors students from upper-class families. All types of capital contribute to maintain the social positions of a specific part of society at the top of the hierarchy, whether it is those with the largest economic, cultural or social capital. “The hierarchy of lifestyles” is in fact a “misrecognized retranslation of the hierarchy of classes” (ibid,
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