Tutor: Elspeth Cordell
Outcomes for the lesson
Structural theories
• Structural theories- handout1
• Theory can be said to be like looking at society through
different lenses – each give it a different perspective or
• The society and its structure is more important than the
• There is no individual- just roles!
• Society makes us who we are
• Society is structured either through Consensus or conflict
• The power of the society over us happens through
• What is it?
• How does it work?
Recap questions
1. Structural theories is like looking through a
2. Is there any individual in this perspective?
3. What are the two theories in this
4. Which one is which?
• Emile Durkheim (18581917)
• Division of labourpeople have different
functions, skills and
abilities which are
worth more or less in
terms of financial gain,
power, prestige,
education level
TASK: Can you list jobs
that are ‘valued’
Value consensus (key term)
• Members of society : happy to take their place
within this division of labour because they
believe in it’s ‘moral worth’ – this comes from
• Hence there is a common agreement- a
consensus about how a society is formed
• Therefore we accept that occupations should be
graded in terms of their value to society and
those occupying the most functional or most
valued should have more rewards (Moore 2004)
• A Stratification system is a moral stratification
system embodying and reflecting common
values and beliefs (Durkheim)
Values and beliefs
• We believe in a meritocratic society
• This inspires us to keep going- training,
• We see our rewards increase as we work
harder and train more
• Hence the system is seen as fair and just so we
keep functioning within it!
Summing up functionalism
• lets break it down again
• Functionalists believe that society FUNCTIONS as
a whole and works by social consensus, in which
members of the society agree upon, and work
together to achieve, what is best for society as a
whole- harmony and social order.
• Social consensus- agreement on core values,
norms and roles.
• Thus happens neatly and with order – as it
happens through socialisation
This agreement (Consensus)Happens..
• This agreement happens through the process
of socialisation
• Parents, school, work, religion, media
• Teach people the ways of the culture- norms,
values, roles.
• Remember a baby learns the way of life from
the parents!
Gapped handout
Class inequality
• Inequality benefits the society…
• T What do you think?
Davis and Moore (1955)
• 4 points – Handout
• Work through the hand-out and answer the
Saunders (1996) New right thinker…
‘ Economic growth has raised the living standers
of all members of society, and social inequality is
a small price to pay for society as a whole
becoming more prosperous’ …
Weaknesses of functionalism
Are all underpaid jobs ‘nonessential?’
For example - Nurses vs Doctors
Earning from £15,000 to £10,000 per annum:
Pharmacy and other dispensing assistants: £14,826
Sales assistants and retail cashiers: £14,598
Cleaners and domestics: £14,436
Sales and retail assistants: £14,326
Playworkers: £14,142
Nursery nurses and assistants: £13,910
Kitchen and catering assistants: £12,904
Bar staff: £12,847
Waiters and waitresses: £12,429
Hairdressers and barbers: £12,138
Weakness of functionalism
• Unequal distribution of wealth and rewards –
‘ Fat Cat pay’
This disparity of rewards and income is one of
the major causes of deviance and crime..
Marxism and social inequality
Marxism: Karl Marx
“You must have doubts about everything”
• Born 5th May 1818
• German
• Founder of Marxism
• Was on the German
£100 pound note until
he fall of the Berlin wall
• Died 1883
• Marxism – society is structured so that some
groups do better than others
• Marxism is a belief that capitalism allows the
owners of capital (the ruling-class or bosses) to
exploit the workers (employees) and this causes
conflict between the two classes
• Fixing workers in their place
• Thus society is structured through disagreement
and conflict
• If everyone got power= less wealth, control!
Happens by…
• Lower classes sell their
labours for little money
(to live on)
• Ruling class makes big
profits selling off the
products produced by the
• See cartoon hand-out
• In industiralisation:
“Transformed the living
worker into a mere
accessory of the
machine” (Marx, 1862)
The hierarchy of the workplace
• Socialisation happens through obedience to
higher social classes
• It is the struggles of rich people holding onto
their money whilst the poorer get poorer…
• Only way to get social equality is through
• Any evidence for this?
The social Class
• Focus on social class
• Difference between the
classes is what causes
• Society is structured around
• So that the powerful classes
get to keep this power
• Middle class is just another
ploy to give the perception
that society is fair
Evidence to back up Marxism…
Comparison of the two
Education from both perspectives
People have the opportunity to be
anything if you work hard enough
Socialises children and prepares them for
society- norms, values, beliefs etc.
Education serves social control or the
regulation of deviant behaviour as it keeps
people off streets, by keeping them busy
and getting them achieving.
teaches confidence, knowledge and self
esteem, thus raising the whole society.
• Marxism:
Louis Althusser (a Marxist) (1971) the
reproduction of an efficient and obedient
work force.
transmitting the ideology that capitalism
is just and reasonable (school teaches you to
compete with your fellow pupils by trying to
do better than them)
train future workers to become
submissive to authority (schools
teachers you to accept as normal to do
as you’re told, this way when your boss
orders you what to do, it seems
perfectly normal)
if not born into wealth then chances of
getting power is not real, just painted
like this to make lower classes have
what would these perspectives say??
• Functionalism
• Marxism
Summing up
• Gapped handout
• But has this theory got any weaknesses?
• Are you happy that the structural theories
discount YOUR contribution to society?