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Sociology: Class Stratification Essay

596 words - 3 pages

Sociology Class Stratification:
Marxism Study:
Sociologists John Westergaard and Henrietta Resler carried out a study entitled “Class in a Capitalist Society” (1976). They concentrated their analysis in British society, which they claimed was dominated by the ruling class. For them the ruling class consisted of; owners of the means of production, company directors, top managers, higher professionals and senior civil servants, combined these makes up only around 5-10% of the entire population.
Westergaard and Resler argued that the major divisions of class and society are between capital and labour power and that private ownership of capital explains these divisions; the ruling class own the means of production and capital of land and the subordinate class which consists of the majority of normal wage/salary earning individuals as the non owners.

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Within the class system, particularly the manual working class strata 3 distinct status groups had emerged; the “respectable” working class, the “ordinary” working class and the “rough” working class. Stacy argues it is not enough to simply determine these groups by economic factors alone because this would not determine there status position. For instance an individual may be a member of the “rough” working class strata due to earning the lowest of incomes however they be considered to have the same status position of someone in the higher levels of the working class.
In addition status groups according to Stacey can cut across class divisions, and used the example of Blacks in the USA who no matter what class hey belong to the same status group. This according to Stacy can form the basis of political action – party. In keeping with her USA example during the 1960-70s many working and middle class Blacks united together as part of the “Black Power Movements” of the time. There are many related examples to this in the UK; the disabled it could be argued share the same status and many party groups have emerged from this, campaigning for disabled rights, representation, equality or even power, and these have been on the increase over the past 20years or so.

This study successfully demonstrates Weber’s theory that there are divisions even within class in society and relates them to UK society. Although this study has been criticised for being dated it remains relevant to the examination of class in modern UK and USA societies. However this can only be said for their analysis of the working class strata since Stacey neglects the middle and upper class strata’s, present in both USA and UK societies alike. Many even criticise the explanations of the working class as being to simplistic or vague. On the whole Stacey’s study although limited offers a strong insight into the depths of the working class from a individual and united position.

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