Social Stratification, Social Closure, Social Mobility and Inequality within the United Kingdom.
Stratification looks at the causes for divisions within the UK – such as inequality with jobs, education and opportunities. In the UK, stratification is hierarchical and looks at wealth, ownership and assets. The term ‘stratification’, essentially means a formation of layers in which different institutions cluster together to make the whole of society. Within the UK, stratification is class based and traditionally views class through norms, values and life style – it places everything in a hierarchical manner. Social stratification is essential in social science studies as it can show how we are effected by certain indicators within the social sphere. In today’s world, class is not as important as it was many years ago – this was down to the fact that class defined who you were and how people perceived you. In society today, it is much easier to mask your social class. There are three different tiers of class within the UK, the Upper Class, Middle Class and the Working Class. Each of the three groups clash with one another with the separations of opportunities and social mobility coming into play. Having three various social groups in society can also cause social closure for certain classes, ruling out the chance of any type of social mobility. Social closure is a concept which refers to the powerful groups within society excluding and preserving the privilege to other social groups by restricting access to resources, rewards and opportunities that may arise. Social closure is universal, found in social groups all over the world. In terms of closure, I would argue that it is not just social groups that have social closure, but even other types of groups in society such as religions like Christianity. For example, Mormons in Utah, they live in a community that isolates itself away from other assemblies within society by having its own neighbourhoods specifically being designed just for them, and their families. Neighbourhoods that comprise of houses, schools, churches and supermarkets – where only the Mormons who reside in the neighbourhood can use. The term social closure was introduced into the world by Max Weber as an explanation of why some groups in society act as they do. The idea of elite self-recruitment was also coined in the social closure aspect, which can also be referred to as networking. This is where inclusion and exclusion also comes into play. If someone wants to join a particular club, school or even an occupation, it can offer the network of people who are in the groups. Only certain people can be in these elite assemblies, rejection of individuals in lower social classes is not rare. Elite self-recruitment is also when members of higher classes in society ensure that their children will be in the same social and financial standing as them. Willmott and Young 1970 argue that, on this particular aspect within their study that was conducted in London (sample of 174 directors, 83% were sons of professionals and managers). Social mobility is where a group in society can move social class or position. There are different types of mobility: upward or downward mobility; also short range and long range. Embourgeoisement and proletarianism are looked at in the mobility movement, these terms were coined by Marx. To move up the hierarchy this is known as embourgeoisement – meaning that the individuals that are moving up the social class scale are adopting norms and values that the bourgeoisie hold. While moving down the hierarchy is known as proletarianism, meaning that the people that move down through mobility, their work becomes less skilled and they will then be known as proletariat. There can also be inter-generational which occurs between generations, or intra-generational which occurs within a generation. There are certain institutions inside society that can encourage social mobility, for instance...
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Saunders, P. (1990) Social Class and Stratification. Routledge, London.
Scott, J. (1991) Who Rules Britain? Polity Press, Cambridge.
www.gov.uk, (2011). Social Mobility: A Literature Review. [online] Available at: http://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32111/11-750-social-mobility-literature-review.pdf [Accessed 2 Apr. 2015].
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