Social Class Inequality - Sociology
By svanroekel, Updated
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Capitalism and Social Class Inequality
3 Class Model and Ideology
Capitalism is an economic structure where a small percentage of individuals own and control the production of our basic needs (Whittington-Walsh). The division of wealth creates a massive gap between the upper, middle, and lower classes in our society, creating social class inequality. Social class inequality is the unequal distribution of opportunities and rewards based on social rank or status (Little).
To Kill aMockingbird
Karl Marx was a German political philosopher and revolutionary who is well known for his theories pertaining to capitalism and socialism (Wolff). Marx believed that capitalism depended on a three-class model, with the Bourgeoisie on the top, Petite Bourgeoisie in the middle, and the working class on the bottom.
The Bourgeoisie at the top consists of individuals who own the means of production. The Petite Bourgeoisie are educated professionals who maintain and create the belief that capitalism is ideal, preventing the working class from questioning the structure. At the bottom are the working class who are exploited for their labour and alienated from their products (Whittington-Walsh).
Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" is set in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930's. The plot is centred around an African-American man, Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman named Mayella Ewell. The book clearly illustrates the differences between social classes at that time.
In chapter 11, Jem and Scout get berated by Mrs. Dubose as they're walking into town. She goes on about how Atticus is "going against his raising" by representing Tom Robinson and isn't any better than those he defends (Lee 105). This is the first time that the children hear insults about Atticus from a grown up. The African-American community in the 1930's were a sub-class and educated people, like Atticus, weren't supposed to associate with them.
Aunt Alexandra comes to stay with the Finches in chapter 13 to be a "feminine influence" for Scout (Lee 129). She also stresses that the children know about their status and position within Maycomb as Finches, stating that they are not "from run-of-the-mill people" (Lee 134). This example highlights the social ranks that are classified by wealth and status within communities.
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