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New Right Theories of Stratification

Gap-fill exercise

Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers. Use the "Hint" button to get a free letter if an answer is giving you trouble. You can also click on the "[?]" button to get a clue. Note that you will lose points if you ask for hints or clues!

   ability      beneficial      Black      cultural      culturally      dependency      deserve      deviant      ethnicity      fatalistic      functional      functionalist      hatred      health      homeless      market      means      meritocratic      mobility      money      motivation      part      political      privately      production      punish      roles      single      State      underclass      work      worthless   
The views of the New Right on stratification share similarities with the classic view - stratification and differentiation is seen as necessary and . The New Right believes that societal inequalities are the results of competition within an economy. Class division and difference is natural, inevitable and to society as they create incentives and rewards for the most able and give appropriate to the less able.

Examples of New Right Thinkers

1. Peter Saunders (1990) argued that the cause of class differences in society did not lie in structural factors like your place in terms of the means of , but instead were determined by what he described as consumption cleavages. In particular our position in society is defined on whether we rely on the for essential services such as education, and housing or whether we purchased these services . Saunders argued that these consumption cleavages were the result of equal opportunity and hard . The successful therefore their success. Saunders also suggests that there is considerable social in Britain and that the causes of this mobility are , hard work and motivation

Criticisms of Saunders
Saunders either appears to ignore gender and inequalities or implies that such differences must be down to lack or ability or .
It is contended that the consumption cleavages that Saunders identifies are really just the results of traditional class division - the working class having less to spend on services due to their poorer position and place in terms of the of production.

2. Charles Murray.
Murray has suggested that a class exists beneath the working class in modern society called the . The underclass is made up of the poor, the old, parents, the disabled and the and is defined by the New Right in terms of the different values they possess. According to the New Right the underclass develops a outlook on life Murray described as "welfare dependency". The underclass develop the belief that they are powerless to alter their social position and thus develop a , work shy, criminal and irresponsible set of values.

New Labour New Right?

Support for the existence of an underclass also comes from American sociologist WJ Wilson who argued that the American underclass is invariably and long term unemployed.
The British sociologist Anthony Giddens (one of the leading intellectuals who supports New Labour) also back the idea on an underclass. For Giddens the underclass consists of the unemployed and time employed. Giddens has influenced New labour social policy designed to break down the " culture" and its deviant values e.g. The New Deal designed to tackle 5 million "workless" households, and also policies designed to families for the deviancy (criminality or truancy) of their children.

Criticisms of the notion of an Underclass
1. The "underclass" is a weighted term which encompasses all sorts of people who may well be on benefits for very different reasons at different stages of their lives.
2. Lydia Morris suggests that the term underclass is just the way those at the bottom of the social heap are stigmatised as and dangerous by ruling groups. Cultural bias against the unemployed and part time employed is just a new form of a class which has existed for a long time.

The Influence of the New Right
New Right ideas have had a profound influence on social policy in the UK especially under New Labour.

Some critiques of this influence can be found below. Read and evaluate them


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