Social belief that society functions the way it

Social inequality describes the unequal distribution
of resources across any given population. When a system of social inequality is
based on a hierarchy of groups it is referred to by sociologists as
stratification. Functionalism notes inequality as functional for society
relating it to biology. It’s a natural state of evolution. Marxism describes
inequality as a separation of classes without the opportunity for progression
this is quite prominent within Australia as there are 2.9 million people living
below the poverty line with only 2% of Australians identifying as upper class
(ABS, 2016). Gender inequality is one of biggest issues women seek to equalise
now. It is a prominent issue attempting to exasperate political nations. Australians
are discovering that despite opportunity for all, society is becoming
increasingly unequal. There has been considerable research on the matter that
debunk Australia as being an egalitarian society (McKay, 1986). Those living in
Australia who fail to recognise the inequality presently are fortunate to live
well above the poverty line and live sound lives. Those in pursuit of social
change are the ones that are not privileged enough to pertain the same level of
equal rights as the rest of the nation.  There
are currently several social inequalities that face Australia presently. They
are portrayed through the media with the fuelling of divisions between racial
groups. Through the expanding gap between the working class and private sector
and the gender inequality that plagues the nations capital.

There are various interpretations on inequality
analysed by different sociologists. Functionalism is the belief that society
functions the way it is supposed to. Everyone plays their role in society. The
functionalist perspective was coined largely by late sociologist Emile
Durkheim. A functionalist believes that inequality and stratification is
functional for society with the Davis-Moore thesis cementing the idea that
stratification has beneficial consequences for society operations (Stinchcombe,
1963). Unlike other sociological views functionalism believes that social
change occurs due to natural forces with early sociologists of the theory
likening social change to Charles Darwin’s approach to natural selection
(Shields, 1975). Talcott Parsons unveiled the equilibrium model of social
change describing that society is always in a state of equilibrium and that
natural forces of change are essential however undesirable, in the growth of
society again relating back to the originality of the theory.

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Karl Marx unlike sociologists of functionalism deemed
that natural order of inequality was undesirable for society. In short Marxism analyses
society into two classes: The Proletariat and Bourgeoise under the paradigm of
exploitation. Marx claims that capitalism creates the social inequality between
the rich and the poor. Capitalists exploit their workers through the refusal of
fair share of profits (Marxism, 1964). Marxists through the eye of social
change view it because of protest or revolution. Unlike functionalists who
believe social change is unplanned conflict theorists deem social change as
fundamental in the equalisation of individuals in the social, economic and
political systems. With each emphasis on change follows the conversation of
criticism.

The advocacy of women’s rights has been a phenomenal
standing point in the last half a century. Feminism aims to equalise both sexes
in all aspects of society including economic and political societies. Unlike
Marxists, Feminism creates social development with the outcome leading to
positive change. Feminism is broken up into three waves of change over the last
century: political, legal and social. Feminism however is facing a major storm
of backlash as radical feminists take over and denounce what feminism stands
for through misogynistic views on men. It begs the question however why no
change has happened to political equality because women are afraid to stand for
equal rights due to backlash which is exactly what feminism aims to change.

Mass media is a big part of modern societies. Marshall
(1996) refers to media as a large-scale organisation using one or more
technologies to communicate to large numbers of people. The media promotes and
reproduces societal values and norms which in turn create common understandings
amongst society. Functionalists like Paul Lazarsfelt and Robert Merton suggest
that the media informs its clients, gives status to different groups however it
neglects to criticise the effect on society (Macionis & Plummer, 1997). The
media today is a dangerous element to society due to only a small few being
able to communicate to a large array of people and the biggest danger of all is
that the audience can not answer back (Mills, 2000). The class dominant theory
claims that corporations own mass-media outlets and that programming is largely
funded by advertising and as a result negative publicity is non-existent on a
major advertiser (Gurevitch, Bennett, Curran & Woollacott, 1982). This is
blatantly obvious with coverage of minority groups. Terror attacks carried out
by Muslims receive five times the media coverage than those carried out by
Caucasians. Analysis of coverage was shown to increase by 449 per cent in the
last 6 years. According to the 2016 Australian Census there are approximately
604, 200 Muslims residing in Australia. They make up 2.6 per cent of the
population compared to the 90 per cent of European descent as a result the
calculations can conclude that the media can create a gap and fuel the social
divisions between the majority and the minorities through the monologue of fear
and hatred.

Economic inequality refers to the gap between the highest
income earners and the lowest income earners (Eitzen & Leedham, 2000). There
is a widening gap between the highest and lowest income earners within the wealthiest
countries with Australia being no exception. Income inequality according to
some capitalists as it is important for society because it provides
competition, hard work and innovating ideas (Sutter, 1987), however it fails to
mention that capitalism suppresses the working class into oppression due to its
exploitation. Australia from the outside appears to have high wages although
workers must continually fight to maintain their wages against increasing
prices. In 1998 the richest 10 per cent of Australians owned 45 per cent of the
wealth (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1998). Class today is inseparable that
capitalists today hold over the clear majority. The private sector need the
labour of their employees to bring resources into motion. This is turn directs
workers activities, reflected through wages. The experience of capitalism in
Australia is heavily criticised yet still lived by. It becomes evident that
capitalism is exploitive but working class interests need not lie with short
term victories but with reducing long term exploitation in order to create a
more equal society, however it can not happen as it does not correlate with
political intentions. Political capitalism is a system in which the economic
elite influence political decisions that surround spending, tax and regulation
and in turn the political elite are then supported by the economic elite in
decision making thus creating an advantageous benefiting relationship. This is
essentially why inequality is obvious between classes because it does not
benefit the political and economic elite fuelling the divide (Holcombe, 2015). In
summary the rich will continue to remain rich and the poor remain poor.

As of 2017 there were 150 members of parliament in
Federal Politics, of that number only 43 were women. Feminist movements aim for
the self-representation of rights in any government setting. Women’s rights
have only recently been won however women are still underrepresented in political
parties. Under the Abbot government, Tony Abbot was the women’s minister of his
Liberal cabinet. Essentially a man represented women’s rights. Julie Bishop was
one of 2 females in the cabinet and disregarded feminism for what it truly
meant and as a result women and their rights were truly forgotten about. Many
studies have concluded on the matter that suggest lower numbers of women
parliamentarians are perceived by the public as exclusion (Sawer, Tremblay
& Trimble, 2006). Confirmation by Lawless (2012) suggest that due to
standardised traditional roles, many women feel discouraged from standing as
political candidates. There are 187,100 more females then men within Australia
(abs, 2016) however Australian parliament favours the minority. In a recent
study (Francis, Grimshaw & Standish, 2012) female MPs although aim to find
a common agreement amongst issues find it difficult to raise awareness or bring
forth issues surrounding women. Feminists preach that gender inequality isn’t
just an image problem within the corporate sector claiming that it has real
implications for the performance of society particularly in the role of
politics. According to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia
(2013) whilst Australia has made crucial developments in the equalisation of
both sexes there are still a myriad of barriers facing women in power and it
indicates that the current approach to equality is stagnant.  

“Reducing
inequality requires a sustained commitment by the whole of society, with
governments playing a leading role” (Habibis & Walter, 2015, p. 271).
As its concluded within the scope of equality it evident that Australia can not
close the gap between those who are the minority and the majority. Many sociological
theories claim inequality in their own terms however their ideas on social change
are relatively similar in that change occurs through social movements. Money
and power seem to be at the foreground of issues and economic inequality is
always going to be an uphill battle by those not fortunate to experiences luxuries
of the political and economic elite. Until there is a collective agreement
amongst groups the gap can not be made redundant. Australian governments on the
outside claim to want to reduce equality sustained by most Australians but in
order to do that many have to lose their platforms of wealth.