The Cycle of Social Inequality

        The structural functionalist sees family as an institution in society maintaining essential functions and obtaining important roles. When a family fails to contribute to society they become dysfunctional, they threaten the other members of society and how society functions as a whole.  Similar to how our bodies work, if one part fails then the body can shut down. The family needs to pass down core values to the future generations so that society can function correctly – when those members of the family gain important roles in the community.


        The conflict theory explains social class by comparing how rich and poor members of society do not have equal opportunities. Not having any money to go to school because you have a very low paying, unsatisfying job just makes it even harder. The wealthy people in society do not have any problems getting an education, thus the quality of the family unit is stronger and not weighed down by the problems of society.  Feminists would explain the inequality in social class – as the wealthy not having as much need for women to go to work, so they can stay home with the children. Whereas, the lower class would have no choice but to have both parents working and not at home with the children.


        Violence is a product of individual and situational problems – being part of a family that is dysfunctional is enough to create individual problems within the unit, but when all of the individuals have problems and do not come together as a whole, then that perpetuates the violence and abuse.  Being a dysfunctional family affects society and further creates inequality in the social classes. Society does not see violence as a dysfunction – rather a problem – and does not address the real issues.


        The government uses the poverty line to estimate how many americans are struggling and living in poverty, but is mainly used to determine if a family needs assistance, and there are different types of assistance.  The poverty line is calculated by the costs of food for the household. If you have a family of 5, the cost is calculated by how much it costs to feed a family of 5 for one year and then that number is multiplied by three. The problem with this calculation is that it is no longer sufficient in supporting low income families as it use to be.


         Poverty has a function in society, even though it is the most unglamorous function, it still plays a part in how our society works. The classes that are living at or below poverty are the members of society that do the hard work. They do the grunt work for the wealthy people and then the wealthy live the glamorous lives. Without the hard work of the individuals then the wealthy would not have the important roles they do have, in some cases society needs the wealthy in those particular roles.  Though they do not give back to society once they make their millions! It is frustrating when you see so many poverty stricken communities that work harder and harder every day just to make ends meet, yet the wealthiest of society do not help those in need, rather they just let there millions of dollars, that the hard working individuals helped them make, sit in a bank somewhere.


         Society is filled with people who have power and wealth, they want to have control over the social and economic resources by dominating the lower classes.  According to conflict theory, inequality exists because those in control of a disproportionate share of society’s resources actively defend their advantages. The masses are not bound to society by their shared values, but by coercion at the hands of those in power.  Emphasising social control, the conflict theory shows how groups and individuals advance their own interests, struggling over control of societal resources. Those with the most resources exercise power over other groups and members of society.


         Providing society with better education and intellect creates a whole platform of resolve.  The better the education system is, the better society will be as a whole. If you are brought up in a poverty stricken community where education is not a priority, then you will not be as educated and as likely to move up in society as someone who is brought up in a wealthy community – with lots of potential for creating a life of comfort and more wealth.  Being educated will also increase your chances for getting a job which in turn creates a more stable society, then, if you have a better income, you will play a role in the consumer side of society as well. Education sets off a cycle of positive societal functions that keeps revolving and can resolve many problems in society, for instance, crime rate and substance abuse.


        The educational system is not immune to the ways of the wealthy, as the wealthy communities in society have the best schools and therefore provide the best education for its members in society.  Having financial support is not something that lower social classes can even pursue in most cases, so incorporating more efficient educational programs and classes for those members in society, would seem almost impossible.  Having the wealth and power on your side, you can generate educated members of society that will be defined by that type of education and have specific roles in society, where in the lower classes this is not obtainable.


         Within the education system the dropout rates seem to be one thing that does not receive attention but there is ways to help this issue.  Naturally the major area of dropouts come from poverty and low income communities where there is a lot of crime and violence. Some drop outs either fall into this way of life, or they simply do not have family support on their side, so they give up on education.  While the schools could be doing way more to direct these individuals down the right path, the schools in these areas just do not have the resources nor the willingness to see it through. More emphasis needs to be placed on the caretakers to get involved if they are not, as well as keeping children off of the streets by incorporating rules and laws.

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