An Assessment of the Contours of Work and Ideology in American Society and the Impact of Racism

The polarization of American society has accumulated throughout decades. Though what causes this polarization? Is it the divisions of finance governing our nation? Is it the different religious perspectives of our fellows? Is it the political raisings of our neighbors or the biological differences that man and woman do not share? Can it be a mix of all these things that create what we know as the differential opportunities given by society. That one born into wealth may have more power and opportunity than someone born into poverty. All of these are factors into which has shaped American society into what is today. It is what has birthed social class formed racism, sexism, and other means of segregation.

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Social class is defined as groups within society defined by possession of different amounts of wealth and power.” (Hodson, 2012). Social class is a large indicator of inequality. Theorists Karl Marx made the argument that there would primarily be a division between classes-the upper class and a large class. The upper class would be in control of means of production, while the larger class worked for their wages. Theorist Max Weber argued in addition to means of production or economic power, social class was also defined by political power and inherited status. Weber implied that in addition to a working class and a higher class, there was a middle-class society who had some means of power. These sociologists have proposed theories that we have gained a better knowledge of today.

There is the big underlying question that we are all trying to still wrap our minds around- “Why does social inequality matter so much?” As well as why are there such differential economical outcomes between people? There are two abstract answers to this being from a functionalist answer and a conflict answer. Functionalists stress the useful outcomes. Inequality motivates people to strive and to perform at their best (Turner, 2001). During the Cultural Revolution, China experimented with completely ending pay differentials between skilled and unskilled workers, and managers made employment decisions based on the assumption that skills were irrelevant, and anyone could be assigned to any task with a minimum of training. The results were economically disastrous, with sustained declines in productivity and manufacturing output (Lynch, 2004). The functionalist answer thus appears to have much to recommend it; differential rewards appear necessary for the effective functioning of a modern economy with widely differentiated tasks.

The conflict theory, however, only finds that some inequality is deemed necessary, but this does little to explain why in industrially advanced societies, those in top positions receive so much more than those in lesser positions- sometimes many thousands of times more. Conflict theorists argue that the answer lies in differential power (Bartos and Wehr, 2002). In a sense, both the functionalists and the conflict theorists are right: Some inequality is required but not nearly as much as exists. Sociologists explore useful concepts for understanding this complex reality: skills, technology, markets, and power. Also exploring in greater detail the actual degree of inequality evidenced in society and some of the key trends in inequality.

Every year, in January, the Census Bureau begins to conduct state and local area data from the Economic Census. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2019 of September, the First Look report from the 2017 Economic Census was released. It showed that businesses employed over 126 million workers, with the Health Care and Social Assistance sector accounting for 20.6 million of these workers (USCB, 2019). In 2019, Kentucky’s population was estimated by the USCB to be approximately 4,467,673 people. Of this in the civilian labor force, total, percent of population ages sixteen and older, between the years of 2014-2018 was 58.9%. Furthermore, in the civilian labor force, females of the percent of population ages sixteen and older, between the years of 2014-2018 was 54.7%. From surveys who carry such large data like the Census, give sociologists a way to compare data and societal norms and behaviors between geographical locations. This includes residential segregation, racial inequality, social changes, patterns of inequality, and more.

One means of surveys and polling, being from the now present COVID-19 pandemic. This has taken our Nation and world at a toll as it has shed many lives and turned many upside-down. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way. Whether it be through unemployment, a change in classes, medical bills, housing, financial, a loved one being more at risk, or other ways. Our health care workers and first line has been on edge as cases come rolling in. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on the 30th day of April, there were a total of 1,031,659 cases and a total of 60,057 deaths.

From a personal perspective, I can see how this virus has affected not only myself and family, but the community around me. Living in Kentucky, we are ranked number for the fastest responding rate. I have seen when entering hospitals for appointments the many screening protocols and the precautions taken in the lobbies as there are duct tape X’s and chairs six feet apart. Grocery stores are now setting times for specific ages to shop and masks are being implemented as community protocol. Who thought we would live in a pandemic such as this? My mother works for the state for Child Protective Services, considered an essential employee and has to contact many police forces for her work. Counties over, they have shut the doors of police stations, hanging a sign to read “only call in case of emergency.” They are not sending officers out unless so and I foresee the crime rate to Many crimes continue to grow as quarantine continues. These crimes consist of assault on medical workers and law enforcement, domestic and family violence, price coughing, financial scams, vehicle theft, burglary of commercial business left vacant, hate crimes, and defying stay-at-home orders and restrictions on public gatherings (Edwards, Rebecca, 2020). Many of these actions I have seen through media postings expressing how individuals refuse to wear masks and use other safety precautions. As well have I seen videos of individuals being cruel to health faculty and rioting, price coughing and spitting on nurses. According to Safewise, in Kentucky, shootings in cities such as Louisville have continued to rise, despite COVID-19 safety precautions. “Since orders were put in place on March 16, the city has seen 46 shootings, resulting in 11 dead,” (Edwards, Rebecca, 2020). The number of days of quarantine are unknown as we continue to gain knowledge if it’s being. As for this crime rates may continue to rise, and citizens continue to follow advised safety precautions.

In Carter County, Kentucky, my home county, there has been updated surveillance of COVID-19 of our residents. A total of 437 individuals have been tested, while 425 have been negative and four tests are currently pending. There is a total of eight positive case reports. These numbers are all as of the 30th of April, 2020. (Carter County Health Department, Grayson KY). Seeing these numbers makes one consider all the vulnerabilities that are truly in your life that COVID-19 could strike. Since the virus has erupted, my family has little to none get out of the house, except for absolutely needed times. We have all taken turns bringing groceries to my granny’s porch, not putting her at risk. My church has made all our services online and we try to remain active and normal as possible. We recorded church services for my granny on a disk so she can still watch service.

As school has switched online, many of us students have had to try to adapt and be flexible. Many students have lost jobs at the sight of campus shutdowns. From Business Insider, many students report how COVID-19 has affected their education, housing situations, financial income, health care resources, educational resources and more. Husumi states, “As an international student, I do not have a place to stay here, and, currently, I’m in a pretty sticky situation. My visa was rejected this week, so I literally do not have a place to go back right now. And my only choice is to stay here in America, and hopefully Georgetown.” (Imam, Medha). Students like Husami look to little to no options.

Though we hope that the day that this virus lets up, we will be able to return to our beautiful campuses and see our friends, shake our professors hands, give tours, laugh in our organizations, and eagerly learn new material. COVID-19 is a cancer to society and one that I hope and pray a solution to find and society’s eyes to notice.

Bibliography

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019; Case in the US. Retrieved https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html

Edwards, Rebecca. (April, 2020). Crime and the Coronavirus: What You Need to Know. Retrieved https://www.safewise.com/blog/covid-19-crimes/

United States Census Bureau. (2019). Quick Facts Kentucky. Retrieved https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/KY#

Lynch, Sarah N. (02 Apr. 2020). Death toll from COVID-19 at Oakdale prison in Louisiana continues to climb. Retrieved https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-prisons/death-toll-from-covid-19-at-oakdale-prison-in-louisiana-continues-to-climb-idUSKBN21K2D4

Hodson, Randy., Sullivan, Teresa A. (2012). The Social Organization of Work. Location: Linda Schreiber-Ganster.

Imam, Medha. (03, Apr. 2020). 15 College Students on How COVID-19 Derailed Their Lives. Retrieved https://www.businessinsider.com/college-students-coping-covid-19-coronavirus-2020-4 

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An Assessment of the Contours of Work and Ideology in American Society and the Impact of Racism. (2022, Oct 05). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from
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