The conflict perspective is a view in the social sciences that describes inequalities that exist globally in societies. For instance, social, political, or material inequality are some of the issues involved in the conflict perspective. The social conflict is associated with master status in social position. Also, the characteristics of a social conflict are seen in terms of socio-economic status, age, religion, and ability or inability. Those in power are interested in being in control over the scarce materials available. The functionalist perspective helps individuals to learn that society involves a complex system, which can involve solidarity and stability. The functional perspective focuses on how the social structures in a society are a catalyst to shape society. In every community, there is social class division due to the indifferences in terms of material ownership. This report discusses why functionalist perspectives explain better social class in 21st century America than conflict perspectives.
The conflict perspective shows the competition for limited resources in a society. In addition, it explains that those with wealth and power try their best to hold on to their possessions. The poor and the powerless are suppressed by the rich since individuals and groups put more effort into ensuring that their wealth and power are maximized. The conflict perspective reveals that inequality is largely maintained in communities, and dominance of the ruling class is practiced. The conflict perspective also explains how wealth, power, and status can impact different people in the community since they can be acquired at the expense of others. Moreover, conflict theorists have explained that many members of society suppress the poor and ensure that they maintain and reinforce their status quo (Fuchs, 2019). Social class indifferences have been the source of social conflict in many areas in America since the poor fight for their rights, while the rich battle towards maintaining their wealth and finding ways to gain more.
The family is also a part of the cause of the continuation of conflict in the community. In this case, inheritance, education, and social capital impact how individuals relate in many American families. Wealthy families instill the differences and a gap between the poor and the rich in society. Moreover, these influential relatives can keep the privileged positions for their members while the poor are left out. The family has also led to gender inequalities in America. In this case, males are more privileged to be in charge of senior positions, and they tend to enjoy power than females. Furthermore, in many households, men are seen to be superior to the w women.
Many of the conflict perspectives are drawn from Karl Marx during the era of industrialization. Karl believed that social stratification was associated with production (Fuchs, 2019). In society, people either owned the factories or worked in the factories. The owners got rich, and the workers who earned insufficient wages strived hard to survive. The difference between their salaries led to social class indifferences whereby poor people were oppressed by the wealthy and those in power.
In modern American society, different social classes have been developed. For instance, the high class consists of the rich, the middle-class, and the poor who struggle to meet their needs. Moreover, the social class indifferences determine the people in power. For instance, most political leaders are regarded as the high class. Additionally, in the 21st century, the situation of social class has improved. However, issues regarding the laborers and employers are experienced, whereby the owners of different companies develop systems to enrich them without considering their employees, which can lead to social conflicts.
In the 21st century, the functional perspective is more helpful in understanding social class than the conflict perspective. The functionalist perspective focuses on the different activities of social structures, and it explains that different aspects of society exist because they serve a needed purpose. The theory suggests that social stratification stands for the unequal value of different work. Therefore, various tasks are associated with different ways of carrying out the work. Many people also believe that the rewards of the career are different; that is why some jobs are believed to be more critical, have higher pay, and be more prestigious than others. Therefore, people are encouraged to work harder and ensure that they acquire these better jobs.
Functional perspective also describes that the skills of a person explain the importance of the work. Many people believe that the higher the skills needed, the fewer qualified people that would do that job. Consequently, a functional perspective is necessary to help the members of society to strive hard to meet their daily needs and promote excellence and productivity. The theory serves the entire community since it enables all individuals to benefit through their hard work. Moreover, the functional perspective shows that it supports the merit of an ideological system. The concept has also helped promote gender equity among the members of society (Pavlović, 2018). Initially, men were believed to be superior to women, and the division of labor was shared according to gender. However, today women are in power and holding senior positions. For instance, the vice president of the US, Harris, is a woman, which shows that societies are appreciating females. In addition, in working fields, men and women are being hired depending on their skills and not gender. Also, peace has been enhanced through meritocracy since it has enhanced equity in communities.
The functionalist perspective also explains the global inequality in society and the social purpose it serves. A scholarly study found that various countries have differences in social class, whereby the developing countries focus on improving the local economy. This approach has resulted in such countries helping their employees gain more skills and improve their social class statuses. The less developed countries end up suffering the oppression of the poor by the rich lead resulting in an increment in social conflicts. Therefore, such issues can be linked with the various problems experienced in modern American communities regarding the poor and the rich.
In conclusion, the conflict perspective explains the reasons for inequalities globally, while functionalism explains the different structures of a society and why they are needed. The 21st functional perspective explains better the social class than conflict perspectives since it focuses on hard work and being skilled to improve individuals’ lives. Additionally, the functional perspective advocates for gender equality, which is a significant issue in American society. Moreover, individuals are encouraged to focus on improving the community and refrain from oppressing the poor. Consequently, one can argue that the functionalist perspective on social class is the most helpful in understanding social class in 21st century America.
Fuchs, C. (2019). “Karl Marx in the Age of Big Data Capitalism.” In Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Capitalism, Labour and Politics in the Age of Big Data. 53-71
Kraus, M. W., Park, J. W., & Tan, J. J. (2017). “Signs of Social Class: The Experience of Economic Inequality in Everyday Life.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(3), 422-435.
Pavlović, J. (2018). “Margaret Moore, A Political Theory of Territory.” Filozofija i društvo/Philosophy and Society, 29(2), 305-307.