Capitalism is a living structure in which people are at liberty to use their personal property with no interference from outside. Hence it is also termed as “free enterprise” (Murphy 12). This is because it gives people freedom of choice; free will to choose their favorite careers, free will to sell their products at their most comfortable prices, and the freedom to select among products that they feel that they give them the best value.
In capitalist states like the USA, people do not seem to realize capitalism, but in socialist states governments and tribal structured systems, careers are assigned by the authorities.
Capitalism has in fact been the order of the day or rather the biggest occupation in the nineteenth century theory of our society (Sayer 19). It has been a mode of life in the modern and current generation. It is a current generations’ sociology that have been termed as “that which is new in a modern society” (Sayer 20). It is the greatest force that shapes the modern world. It is the current sense that determines the society’s economy.
Capitalism critics in the modern society fear freedom (Murphy 14). They fear the outcomes of people being allowed to decide on their personal economic relationships and the outcome in letting the continued running of the unregulated market. They hold the view that regulators and bureaucrats are well informed than ordinary citizens in making their personal free will arrangements. The credibility of this argument is sometimes questionable.
It is true “in a market economy the potential employees are free to select their careers, and that their fate holds at the sympathy of their employers” (Murphy 15). However, it is far much better to be at the mercy of an employer in a liberal market where you have a selection to make. The employer experiences competition and the worst action he can take is failing to pay you. This is incomparable to being at the sympathy of state bureaucrats who make selections for you with the government force behind them.
Modern capitalism has reversed the old saying that “capitalism exploits the poor to concentrate on the interests of the rich” (Murphy 27). This is a long gone case. Instead of tending to entice few rich people, the emerging large businessmen now cater for the lately empowered working society. The huge expansion in production has made it possible for many families to enjoy the luxury of having their children out of labor force. Thus the coming of the capitalist era has seen the infant mortality drop and this has been replaced by a rise in life expectancy.
Social inequality is a system where there exist a few rich people and very many poor people in the same set up (Ingham 33). It is a structure that experiences inequitable distribution of resources. It is governance that creates tens of millionaires and millions of beggars.
Main causes of social inequality in contemporary capitalist societies
Major causes of social inequalities cuts across a range of ideas. While some causes can be viewed to have effects in the short-term, others have their effects in the long-run. Absolute poverty can be a major cause of social inequality (Buttler and Watt 65).
It is a condition featured by an intensive deprivation of basic human needs which includes, food, safe and pure drinking water, well kept sanitation conditions, good health care, good and human worth shelter, quality education, and access to information. This absolute definition may be meant to be across cultures and also across history. However, the problems of making comparison across the times have created most contemporary poverty.
Relative poverty is another major cause of social inequality (Buttler and Watt 67). This is the poverty which is relative to a living standard of a given society at a given particular point in time. People, homes and families can be said to be poor if they lack the resources to secure some types of diet, unable to raise funds that can help them participate in given activities and are living in conditions and amenities that can be said to be customary.
Their resources are so bad compared to the conditions required by an average individual or a population that they are, to the effect, can be said excluded from normal living design, customs and activities.
Subjective poverty is another major cause of social inequality. It is the feeling a family, people, or a population have that makes them feel that they have been subjected to financial hardship (Buttler and Watt 87). They may feel so depending on what they undergo in their day to day lives.
Living in neighborhood with a high level of poverty and where social resources are scarce is another major cause of social inequality (Neckerman 144). Children living under these conditions are largely affected. Residential areas with alarming crime rates, high population turnover, inadequate institutional supports and weak ties between the communities make it hard for poor families to ensure that they provide a good environment in which children can thrive.
Education is yet another major cause of social inequality (Neckerman 124). The value of education has been rising in an alarming rate. High school dropouts have been left marginalized in yet a very competitive job arena. Better and strong skills and higher education level credentials are very significant to the current economic attainment. Some countries like America have responded to this high skills demand by facilitating more and advanced education where they are able to do so.
To access these better skills, one requires financial support. The biggest challenge is left to the low income earning families who cannot afford the higher education. By and large, their access to this high education remains just an unrealizable dream. In this regard, the gap of the social inequality widens further. To make it worse, the education imbalance lands its immediate consequence in the job market. This is where the new employees are sorted into good and bad careers. Children from the poor families again get themselves on the receiving end.
Political participation is yet another cause of social inequality (Neckerman 20). Political participation especially in the electoral process has an impact on a population’s economic empowerment. Regions with a less population may be considered less by the political class. The regions with more population might be considered more. This owes to the African theory that the region with a relatively high population will have a higher political voice. Hence the political class, who controls the economy, emphasizes more on the highly populated regions.
Poor public policy is another factor that causes social inequality (Neckerman 24). Public policy has a significant impact on a population’s economy. With the rising inequality, the affluent become more capable of acquiring substitutes for public social necessities in the like of education, good health care, and retirement benefits.
They may use their rising political and economic holdings to push for a reduction in progressive taxation and reduce the social programs. In this regard, the gap between the have and the have-nots continues to widen. The politicians fail to listen to the economically frustrated voters, fail to tax the haves and fail to redistribute to the have-nots.
Wealth is another cause of social inequality. Better still, economic inequality has been recurring over the generations (Neckerman 14). As the haves accumulate their wealth and bequeath it on their own children, the have-nots continue to worsen in poverty and pass on the poverty cycle to their children. Therefore the trend of the rich accumulating their richness and the poor remaining in poverty has been passed on from generation to generation.
Perception of group inequality is another cause of social inequality (Frizzel and Pammett 57). The extent to which a family, a power group are perceived as experiencing inequality, determines how far the inequality will be addressed. Some social groups have been perceived as poor, perceived themselves as poor, done nothing about the poverty , nothing done by the haves about the have-nots poverty and hence have lived in the same poverty.
Gender differences and gender gaps have been another cause of social inequality. The gender disparity has for a long time been a critical concern (Frizzel and Pammett 63). What women think about their capability has been on the check. Their perceptions are however different from those of men.
For a long time there has been no structured gender equality. The differences between men and women have been seen to cultivate a good ground upon which women are given different and unequal treatment. Men and women also show different interests and attitudes on a range of policy and political matters.
Novelty has also been seen as a major cause of social inequality (Buttler and Watt 102). It refers to when mass poverty and a widening social disparity gets to a society or to a given population. It can also exist when numerous types of social exclusion becomes irreducible to class simply because they depend on other stratification axes like ethnicity, gender, age or migrant status.
Economic restructuring also leads to a significant social inequality (Buttler and Watt 103). Globalization, deindustrialization and neo-liberalism define economic restructuring. These factors also lead to social exclusion. When this form of social exclusion occurs, social disparity also exists.
Multi-dimensionality leads to social inequality (Buttler and Watt 107). It occurs when there is inadequate social participation, severe absence of social integration and when the society possesses no power. When a society is unable to engage in social activities that are customary in a given setup, then this failure could be as a result of poverty. The outcome of this kind of multi-dimensionality is deprivation. This deprivation widens the social inequality gap.
Dynamics and procession also play a great role in widening the social inequality gap. This is progressive social status state. It is a state of what a society becomes. A society may progress by losing their links to others and end up losing the entire society as a whole over time (Buttler and Watt 110). This phenomenon kills the society’s collective responsibility, making some parts of such a society get neglected and thus widening the social inequality.
Buttler, Tim and Watt Paul. Understanding social inequality. London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 2007. Print.
Frizzel, Alan Stewart and Pammett Joh H. Social inequality in Canada. Canada: Carleton University Press, 1997. Print.
Ingham, Geoffrey K. Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008. Print.
Murphy, Robert Patrick. The politically incorrect guide to capitalism. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007. Print.
Neckerman, Kathryn M. Social inequality. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2004. Print.
Sayer, Derek. Capitalism and modernity: An excursus on Marx and Weber. New York, NY: Routledge, 1991. Print.