Social Inequality: A Sociological Analysis

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Social inequality is one of the main issues in social science. One of the main purposes of sociology is to criticise social issues. As Zygmunt Bauman is stating, “Sociology is a critical activity” (2014, 26), that aims to criticise economic and social improvement within the society. Society´s hunger of ceaseless improvement is often resulting in a paradox: the higher classes are taking advantage of capitalistic development, the more lower classes are suffering from this constant growth, due to an uneven distribution of power.
This essay aims to analyse how capital and class division can affect education in our contemporary society, particularly focusing on non-traditional students and their experience at university, by presenting two approaches
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But, in comparison to Marx, his approach is not only covering economic facts, but several other perspectives, such as social and cultural aspects. Drawing from Marx’s concept of capital, he developed other types of capital, cultural and social capital (Wacquant, 2007, 268), in order to analyse class division from different perspectives.
According to Bourdieu, capital is transmitted from older to younger generation within the family. Economic capital, representing financial and material resources, transmitted from father to son, enable the younger generation to build an education, in other cases even to start a business, as he is stating in a famous documentary about him (Sociology is a martial art, 2002).
Cultural capital, on the other hand, also transmitted within the family, is covering all those cultural aspects, such as language skills, traditions, cultural knowledge as myths, literature, poetry and art. Consequently, cultural capital is marking a great difference from students from a higher class, in comparison to students from a lower class: as the family members from a higher class, more likeably to have an academic background, are transmitting their cultural capital to the younger generations, those are one step forward, as they would have experienced these cultural background already from the
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It is crucial to analyse all these types of social capital, in order to explain which factors are determining such differences within an educational context. As Meuleman et al are arguing (2014, 503), utilising Bourdieu’s and Marx’s concept of capital, non-traditional students’ experience might not always be positive. It often implies serious difficulties to integrate within the social and academic field of university, sometimes resulting in isolation and even depression, having difficulties to feel part of a community (ibid,509).
Cultural capital is also playing a crucial role, as some students, with a different, even international background have difficulties achieving high results, due to a lack of a required cultural and language skills
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