All around the world, there is inequality in every society. The United States has one of the most diverse populations because of immigration, colonialism, and slavery. One example of where there is an issue of inequality is in race and ethnic groups. African Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans are the largest racial minorities in the United States, and Latinos and Jews are the largest ethnic groups (Shaefer 233). Sociologists definition of minorities is different than others because they look at the economic and political powerlessness of the group, not necessarily just by the number of people.
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Functionalists think that racial inequality is good to keep the society stable. They say that dominant people will benefit from the subjection of the minority. Conflict theorists think that racial discrimination and prejudice can have negative effects on a society. In Karl Marxs class theory, he viewed the exploitation of lower class as the basic part of the capitalist economy.
Marx said that by having racism, it keeps minorities in low paying jobs, and the capitalists could have cheap labor. With having cheap labor, when the dominant group demanded higher wages, they could be threatened with the thought that someone in the minority could replace their job because they have no choice but to work for low wages (Shaefer 229).
Along with racial inequality comes a perspective called the racial profiling. Racial profiling is any arbitrary action initiated by an authority based on race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than on a persons behavior (Shaefer 229). A huge example of racial profiling that happens in our world today is when law enforcement officers assume because someone fits a racial profile, they are more willing to be engaged in illegal activity. Race also plays a huge role in the education of children.
A study was done by the University of Chicago to see how different racial stereotypes affected the type of education a child was receiving. It has always been known as a part of history that African Americans have had unequal opportunities when it comes to schooling and education is looked at as social mobility for them. Although African Americans have made a dramatic increase in education progress over the years, they are still far behind that of a white student.
In this study, researchers concluded that black students start elementary school with less schooling experience than white students and are more likely to have be below the modal grade for their age than white students. The University of Chicago also reported that gaps in the academic performance between blacks and whites can be clearly seen from age 9 through 17 (Epps 594). Racial inequality has been a large part of not only the American society, but societies all over the world.
Another form of inequality pertains to gender. Women have always been inferior to men when it comes to gender gaps in the workforce. The occupational feminization theory is focused on the ratio of men to women in an occupation, and after World War II there was a steady increase in the number of women who started working. As the number kept increasing, the value of the jobs they were entering went down. Men did not want to work alongside women because they felt if a woman could do the same job as them it was too feminine.
In a study done to show these gender differences it was said that, Within these feminizing occupations, studies have found a persistent gender gap in income even after controlling for additional factors (Schleifer 389). Women a lot of the time are looked at as less valuable to an occupation and receive less pay because there is this stigma that men can do the job better and more efficient. Within the same occupation, women tend to receive a lower pay than men because their work is devalued and looked at as not as good (Schleifer 390).
Gender roles set apart the men from the women and lead them to have certain expectations of what is the right behavior for them to have. Men are looked at to be the bread winners of the family by working a labor-intensive job or being high up in the business realm, while women are looked at as being the caregivers and stay at home moms.
Both sexes are equally capable of doing either job, but not many people see it that way. An example given in the sociology book explains that if a father takes his son to the doctors office and sits in the waiting area, the father will most likely get nods of approval by the receptionists and maybe even someone telling him hes a good father. Now, if a mother takes time to leave work or even a stay at home mom comes in with her son, she will not get a reaction at all because thats the stereotype of men and women (Shaefer 252).
Functionalist think that gender differentiation provides to the overall social stability and is needed to maintain it. This perspective says that in order for a family to run smoothly and to its best ability, both adults need assigned roles in which they specialize in. Conflict theorists believe that the gender differences in males and females has always been of unequal power. Males are superior to females in the workforce and household duties because of their size and physical strength. In comparison to Marxs class theory, males are like the capitalist and control the wealth and power, while women are like the proletariats or working class. Women must look up to the men and follow their orders for anything to be accomplished.
The interactionalist perspective is looked at differently than functionalist and conflict because it is looked at on a much smaller scale. Interactionalists examine every day interactions of the male and female and show that we do gender. By doing gender this means that there are specific things that males and females do all the time and have become accustomed too. Males typically hold open the doors for women and let a girl go ahead of them. Women practice this by consenting to the assistance of males and relying on their help when they think they are physically unable too (Shaefer 261). From a sociological perspective, there will always be inequality in the world and it doesnt matter if its race or gender or anything else. Inequality is simply a way of life.
Epps, Edgar G., and Carolyn D. Epps. “Race, class, and educational opportunity: Trends in the sociology of education.” Edmund W. Gordon: Producing Knowledge, Pursuing Understanding, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 75-89, EBSCOhost. ezproxy.library.ipfw.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=11055886&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Schaefer, Richard T. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 12th ed., SmartBook, McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.
Schleifer, Cyrus, and Amy D. Miller. “Occupational Gender Inequality among American Clergy, 1976“2016: Revisiting the Stained-Glass Ceiling.” Sociology of Religion, vol. 78, no. 4, 2017, pp. 387-410, EBSCOhost. doi:10.1093/socrel/srx032.
Utilizing The Sociological Imagination. (2019, May 15).
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