? A Response on Social Inequality We live in a culturally diverse world. Age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic heritage and race are some of the diverse areas in society that are deemed significant. In spite of all these differences we tend to center ourselves around people who are similar to us; those who share the same biological and physical characteristics, same status and similar lifestyles. Because of this it is our human nature to be ethnocentric towards those who are different from us.
This gives rise to discrimination which ultimately leads to social inequality. There are many areas in which people discriminate others. One of the most prominent ones is race; since it is easy to identify. Race is related to the distinct biological characteristics of a person; skin color, hair color, eye shape, height ect. We can easily differentiate an African American from a white American. Another similar area to race is the ethnicity of a person. Ethnicity is the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.
For example some commonly recognized American ethnic groups include American Indians, Latinos, Chinese, African Americans, European Americans, etc. Discrimination and social inequality on the base of race and ethnicity go hand in hand and is seen all over the world. In the article “office work and the crack alternative” Philippe Bourgois shows how a group Puerto Rican immigrants in New Harlem face discrimination because of their race. They are deprived of jobs at work places and are stereotyped as lazy and good for nothing.
Sex and gender is also another area where social inequality occurs. Gender is the state of being male or female etc. and sex is the category into which humans are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions. We see social inequality on sex and gender in almost all work places where the male usually gets better jobs and a better pay than females and we also see this social inequality in families where the male is the head of the family and holds an authoritative figure. This is mostly due to gender stereotypes.
Some common gender stereotypes are that men are stronger, tougher, braver, and more intelligent thus he is given the authoritative role. Women on the other hand are stereotyped as more emotional, sensitive and soft spoken, and nurturing thus she is in charge of taking care of the household duties such as cooking, cleaning, raising the children. In Asian countries it is common to see the male as the “higher” gender while the woman is seen as lower than them. Caste and class is another area where you see social inequality based on discrimination. Caste is an economic categorization describing the status you are born into.
Caste is an ascribed status; you have to stay in your caste from birth on, and it helps determine your job, place and value in society etc. Class is based on economic status; usually upon the income made. While people tend to stay in the class they are brought up in, it is possible to move up or down the class scale therefore it is an achieved status unlike in caste. These categorizations may reflect the attitudes of the people because it shows the importance people place on power and wealth in a society. In India the high castes are the Brahmins’.
They inherit exclusive privileges from birth and are socially distinct while lower castes are deprived of their basic rights and are usually discriminated by the higher castes. In our present society we can see that people give more respect to those who are at a higher class than themselves; especially based on how much they earn. Social Inequality is seen in other areas of society too but it is more prevalent within the areas of race and ethnicity, sex and gender, and class and caste. Social inequality can only end if we become less ethnocentric towards those who are different from us and if we accept the social diversity in our world.