In the modern world, social inequality is an integral part of society’s life. It can be defined as unequal access to the material and spiritual resources of different strata and classes of people. As a result, there is a difference in life chances and opportunities to meet needs. This problem originates from ancient times and has global dimensions. Even though modern society strives for equality in all spheres of people’s lives, there is an opinion that inequality is, on the contrary, a positive feature. To better understand this controversial topic, this paper will look at the arguments on why it is an essential part of society.
The article Science of Inequality: Why People Prefer Unequal Societies was chosen as a text under analysis. It offers a point of view that social inequality holds a strong place in society and is quite good for it, which is different from current social trends. The authors base their worldview on the fact that despite the widespread opinion that equality should prevail in modern society, many people subconsciously choose social inequality in many spheres of life. The author argues that this difference between people is because many individuals want to have more privileges than others. Moreover, the authors state that “participants claimed that individuals in the top 20% should have more than three times as much money as individuals in the bottom 20%” (Starmans et al. 1). The article also supports the opinion that social inequality is a motivating factor that helps in the fight against poverty. In conclusion, the authors conclude that most people have the wrong vision of how great inequality is (Starmans et al. 1). This is because for many, modern society seems to be more equal than it is.
In this essay, I will analyze the argument that social inequality benefits society and how it is constructed on worldview. I will look at the five elements of the worldview: values, emotions, stories, fantasy, and specific beliefsbeliefs. When considering controversial social problems, it is necessary to apply a critical approach. This method will allow sensibly and carefully weighing the arguments of the parties for and against the topic under study. Critical thinking promotes an objective view of ideas, decisions and actions, identifying weaknesses and establishing the truthfulness of facts and assumptions, relying on logic and cause-and-effect relationships. In other words, this method of evaluating judgments also allows forming an objective view of ideas.
A social structure is an internal specific structure of a society or a social group determined by the norms of their interaction. This phenomenon is based on the division of labor, the presence of special needs and interests, values, roles, and lifestyle (Warwick-Booth 2). Thus, social values consider inequality an integral characteristic of any social group and society. Otherwise, their existence as a system would be impossible. The factor of inequality determines the development and dynamics of a social group.
The social structure thus plays an important role in preserving the integrity and stability of society in its stable development. The division of labor acts as one of the major features of the issue under study. This is because each person acquires different characteristics during their lifetimes, such as talent or certain skills. On the other hand, social disparity gives advantages to those who have more talent and profitable skills for society.
Nowadays, such a process as social inequality is viewed as the distinction of individuals into categories. This happens in compliance with the situation and disparity in the implementation of life benefits, opportunities, and rights. For example, poor people belong to the lowest rungs of the social ladder, and people with power and money belong to the upper rungs. Stories as a feature of the worldview also can support this idea, as, in many tales, stronger and richer people were all coming from the upper strata of society. This issue has gained critical value in modern times.
The definition of people to a certain social class has an impact on their behavior and people’s thinking. Firstly, in order to survive, representatives of the upper strata of society need to spend a smaller share of available resources than representatives of the lower social classes. Moreover, specific beliefs that are shared by Zulfiqar and Prasad state that representatives of the upper classes have more intangible benefits (157). Affluent people have a higher average life expectancy than the poor, and people with higher incomes experience greater satisfaction in life. This is due to the fact that belonging to a certain social class has an impact on lifestyle.
Social inequality, as already mentioned, implies different opportunities and unequal access to public and material goods (Goldthorpe 33). Among such benefits stand out:
- Income. In this case, what financial condition people have determines their level in the society in which they are.
- Education. This aspect is characterized by the fact that the level of education of people determines their social status.
- Power. This feature has one of the decisive values in the differentiation of society. It is defined as an individual’s ability to impose a point of view on wider segments of the population, regardless of their desire.
- Prestige as a position in society and its assessment, which was formed on the basis of public opinion.
Specific beliefs, as a part of the worldview, consider inequality to be a completely natural phenomenon. To add to the authors’ point of view, one of the arguments is that it is firmly rooted in human society. Therefore, this social problem is justified by the fact that people initially acquire an unequal position and unequal opportunities at birth. Thus, when people are born, they have rights, freedoms, and duties, but they are not equal to those of other individuals born at the same time. Society is a differentiated system, and social inequality is an integral part of it. Another factor supporting this problem is the limited resources and unequal access to them for people.
In addition, power, property, and competition contribute to the formation of various opportunities for people. Thus, if examples from history are taken into account, humanity had different forms of government. However, even in those systems where equality was the basic element, people did not have the same opportunities and access to resources. Therefore, it can be concluded that social inequality is not a manifestation of injustice but the reality of modern society.
According to the economic justification of the rationality of social division, their causes come from the uneven attitude towards property and the allocation of material goods. The emotional component of the worldview on this issue also has a special value. Studies show that even though many people praise equality, a large portion of them “when it comes to real-world distributions of wealth have a preference for a certain amount of inequality” (Starmans et al. 1). The clearest definition of this is given in the works of Marxism. Marxists cited as justification the fact that different social classes are formed on the basis of different places and roles that are inherent in individuals in society. Moreover, they focus on the fact that the emergence of such a concept as private property entailed the social stratification of society and the formation of classes.
The division of labor is considered to be the driving force for the social disparity. In this case, certain functions necessary for society should be performed by a specially designated social group, which is presented as a success for the future, considered in the fantasy aspect of the worldview. Thus, one group should be involved in the making and manufacturing of materialistic things, and the other should concentrate on spiritual values. Moreover, to regulate these separations, the existence of a control layer is necessary. Its duties will include monitoring activities for the well-being of society. Thus, on the basis of differentiated functions, there is an inequality of classes and strata of society that perform them.
Social inequality has its merits, despite the growth of the opposite opinion among the current population. As mentioned in the article under study, it motivates people to maximize their abilities in order to achieve a leading position in their chosen field of activity. This factor has a certain value since a person, without making any effort to improve his life, will eventually degrade and descend to the lowest levels. In addition, social inequality encourages the poor to get out of a desperate situation. Despite the ambiguity of this argument, it is important to pay attention to the fact that now many people living below the poverty line are trying to approach the level of average income. Another advantage of social inequality is that it brings order to the economic sphere. This argument lies in the fact that people who have a certain amount of funds have the opportunity to produce resources, unlike people who do not have the means to do so and are forced to use them.
Social inequality is a stimulating factor for the growth of various fields of human activity. Therefore, at this stage of development, the middle class has a special weight. Despite the desire for equality of social classes, this stratum of people plays the role of an intermediate link between the rich and poor representatives of society. Thus, the more people this class has, the stronger its role in the political sphere of the state and in the formation of social values. To maintain the article’s point of view that social inequality can be useful to society, it is important to mention that this phenomenon contributes to the development of complex processes. Furthermore, in addition to the main stratification function, it is a regulator. This aspect is to create norms for each layer or class to preserve the structure and balance of society.
This work considered such an acute social problem as social inequality of the population. This aspect is of particular relevance in modern times and can cause many problems. Social inequality has taken root in human society, and now it is considered a natural phenomenon. However, there is an opinion that the division of people into classes and layers has a positive impact. Therefore, social inequality is necessary for all spheres of the organization of social life since the development of these areas of society is simply impossible without the allocation of strong and weak members. This is also due to such factors as economic, status, and motivation, since social inequality provides an incentive for further development, primarily for the poor strata of society.
Goldthorpe, John H. “Social Inequality and Social Integration.” Social Policy and Public Policy, 2017, pp. 32-40.
Starmans, Christina et al. “The Science of Inequality: Why People Prefer Unequal Societies.” The Guardian, 2017, Web.
Warwick-Booth, Louise. Social Inequality. Sage, 2018.
Zulfiqar, Ghazal, and Ajnesh Prasad. “Challenging Social Inequality in the Global South: Class, Privilege, and Consciousness-Raising through Critical Management Education.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol. 20, no. 2, 2021, pp. 156-181.