Critically discuss the concept of class and its relation to social stratification theories, in the current Australian context.
People in Australian society are divided into social classes, which can determine many of the important factors within the persons life, including access to important resources and life chances. Social Stratification is a form of social inequality which is based around the hierarchial ranking of status positions within society. Class is one of the types of social stratification within societies, and is based on a persons economic position. In this essay I shall examine the concept of class, and its relation to social stratification theories by a number of theorists. I shall also pay attention to how these theories and concepts relate to the current situation in Australia, with a focus on work/occupations as well as gender differences.
Many theorists have attempted to explain their theories as to why social stratification and class exist. There different theoretical views of social stratification are the conflict view and the structural-functionalist view. The two main conflict view theorists are Marx and Weber. They both saw social stratification in terms of social conflict, although their analyses varied.
Marx analysed class in relation to the means of production and the ownership of capital. From this he distinguished a two-class system which comprised of the bourgeoisie (capitalist) class, and the proletariat (working) class. Weber criticised Marxs theory, and used economic differences of market capacity to divided people into four different classes. These were "the propertied class; the intellectual, administrative and managerial class; the traditional petty-bourgeois class of small businessmen and shopkeepers; and the working class. (dictionary)
However in current Australian society, along with modern society in the rest of the world, there are generally more then two