Do you know what social inequality is? When it’s brought to your attention you most likely are thinking it means having unequal rights in society, which, in a way, you’re right! Social inequality is described as a condition in which members of society have different amounts of wealth, prestige, or power. You understand now? Let’s look at it this way, a boy who is raised around parents that are farmers versus a boy being raised around parents that are lawyers is most likely going to stay in or around that same “class” per say. A child’s social class greatly affects his chance to go outside of the class he was born into. This affects the boy’s amount of wealth, prestige or power throughout his life.
Now you may be asking, what is social class. Well, it’s a group of people with similar positions in society. Like the boys and their parents, in most cases, will be in the same class. In other words a maid and a janitor are in the same social class just as a dentist and an architect are. These two sets of examples of social classes are also forms of social inequality; one set makes a greater amount than the other set. With all this being said, I’d like you to know that just because one is raised in a certain class it is very possible for them to change classes, this is called social mobility.
Social mobility is when there is movement of individuals or groups from one position in society to another, this can happen positively or negatively, this is called vertical mobility. To give you a better understanding let’s say the maid is now a dentist and the architect is now a janitor. The maid has now experienced great vertical mobility while the architect has now experienced negative vertical mobility. Let’s just go into a little more depth, here’s a short story about Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’s father was a soap maker with 17 children to take care of, he wanted Benjamin to enter the clergy but could only afford one year of schooling and clergymen needed many years of schooling. Instead he had him apprenticed to his brother who was a printer and he ended up selling their work on the streets. After trying many times to show his work to his brother and others, he ran away looking for printers work, he failed greatly and even became homeless. Soon enough he finally got a printers job and started his own business and the citizens began to notice him. He began getting contracts to do government jobs and from then on business was booming. To this day we know him as drafting the Declaration of Independence and the face to the $100 bill. Benjamin Franklin is just one example of vertical mobility, social class and social mobility that ties into social inequality.
“A Quick Biography of Benjamin Franklin.” The Electric Ben Franklin. USHistory.org, 4 July
- Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/info/>.
Witt, Jon. “Social Class.” SOC. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2014. 238. Print.
Witt, Jon. “Social Class.” SOC. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2014. 240-242. Print.