Compare the Functionalist and Marxist Views on Social Stratification

1747 words 7 pages
CRITICALLY COMPARE MARXISM AND FUNCTIONALISM IN THE WAY EACH PERSPECTIVE CONCEPTUALIZES THE PHENOMENON OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION.

Social stratification refers to the presence of distinct social groups which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such as prestige and wealth (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004). Those who belong to a particular group or stratum will have some awareness of common interests and a common identity. They also share a similar lifestyle which, to some extent, will distinguish them from members of other social strata (Lenski, 1984). Social stratification involves a hierarchy of social groups and they either enjoy or suffer the unequal distribution of rewards in society as members
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On the other hand, the Marxists have put forward their views on social stratification which differ to the views of the Functionalists. In fact, the Marxist perspective provides a radical alternative to the functionalist views of the nature of social stratification.
The Marxists regard stratification as a divisive rather than an integrative structure. It is seen as a mechanism whereby some exploit others, rather than as a means of furthering goals. The Marxists focus on social strata whereby the functionalists say very little about social stratification in relation to the topic of social strata. This focus on social strata is central to the Marxist Theory.
From a Marxist perspective, systems of stratification derive from the relationships of social groups to the means of production. The term ‘class’ was used to refer to the main strata in all stratification systems; a class is a social group whose members share the same relationship to the means of production. In a capitalist era, there are two main classes, the bourgeoisie or capitalist class and the proletariat or working class. Classes emerge when the productive capacity of society expands beyond the level required for subsistence. Private

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