Sociological Ideas Explaining Social Inequality

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How do selected sociological ideas help to explain social inequality? Since the beginning of time individuals have labelled and categorised one another spawning prejudices and social divisions. The social stigma associated with ‘lesser’ communities has robbed many of its individuals of the freedom, rights and opportunities that others experience. Gender, ethnicity, education and religion are only a fraction of a multitude of factors that have fuelled this social inequity. It is important, however, to note that social equity is not about achieving equal ways of living but about ensuring that people have equal opportunities. Ironically, Australia is known as a country of fairness and equality, yet this imbalance still exists in our postmodern society. Ultimately, our context defines our place within society and our unavoidable differences pave the way for inequity. Gender inequality goes far beyond the physical nature of men and women, but rather stems from societies perception of the two. Robert Stoller, an American psychoanalyst argued in his study of ‘sexual identity’ that “Gender is a term that has psychological or cultural rather than biological connotations. If the proper terms for sex are ‘male’ and ‘female’, the corresponding terms for gender are ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’; these latter might be quite independent of (biological) sex”. (Furze. B, 2008, p. 9). Hence, the socialisation of women placing them into traditionally “feminine” roles assists in the perception of being the one that “cooks and cleans” whereas with men it is the complete opposite, undertaking the roles of “breadwinner and protector”. Based on what Stoller argued, a person’s gender is definitely complex, encompassing countless characteristics such as appearance and personality and is not solely the universal interpretation of being male or female. The typical features of men being

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