Social Inequality: then V.s Now
Social inequality, by definition, occurs when resources in a given society are distributed unevenly is a problem that is has been in this world for thousands of years. The first signs of social inequality originated in the Paleolithic era, which occurred 40,000 thousand years ago. Social inequality can be seen as negative due to it causing a separation between a group of people. The idea of social inequality is discussed in multiple ways. Examples include the poem “Social Classes” by Sylvia Chidi, which discusses how one could achieve or have the “qualification” to be in a certain class, or the book Little Bee by Chris Cleave depicts how gender and color can determine a person’s class and how people view the individual. Social injustice and inequality are shown through the existence of social classes based on wealth, color, gender, and how they will relate with the past.
The first type of social class was feudalism. Feudalism can be compared to modern times in multiple ways. First, on the feudalism pyramid are peasants. As defined by the Dictionary, a peasant was a person of low social status. The term “poor” is defined as, “Lacking sufficient money” (Dictionary). Both of these social classes are seen as, “ Dirty”, or called “Untouchables” in certain countries, but studies have shown that low individuals are warmer than high-end individuals. One article states, “Low-SES individuals are seen as less competent but warmer, their incompetence exaggerated under high inequality” (Bailon 1). This states that lower class individuals are more content with what they have. This is shown in the “Beggar and the King,” when the beggar says, “ I will not harm thee now. I will only cry aloud in the streets for bread wherewith to fill my belly. But one day I will not be so kind to thee” (Parkhurst 1). This quote shows the beggar giving mercy and how he is warm-hearted towards the king. This not only shows how the lower classes have the competency to show clemency, but they are also warm-hearted. The so-called poor individuals of those times are similar to the poor of these times. For example, If one were to give money to a poor individual, they would be ever so grateful just as the peasants from the Middle Ages would be. On the next step of the feudalism pyramid, are knights/warriors who can be related to the modern day middle class.
The knights/warriors are individuals that can be compared to the modern day middle class. The knights are, “skilled soldiers who rode into battle on horseback”(Walker 1). According to this article, “The wealthier lords and barons often gave away some of their lands to professional fighters called knights” (Walker 1). This quote depicts that the Knights are ranked above the peasants, but below the lords. According to many articles, “At times, they also oversaw the lowest classes when they built the pyramids.” This quote depicts how the knights were above the lower class (more commonly known as the peasants) and were given power to “oversee” or command them. In today’s hierarchy, there is the middle class which is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy. During the past few decades, the middle class has not changed or fluctuated. The middle class has received the same wage increase at a relatively increasing rate due to an increase in the number of jobs. Just like the knights, both classes received the same amount of respect over a certain period of time. The middle class also thrives during a booming economy. The Knights also will grow if a kingdom is growing due to a larger army need to maintain the security or serenity of the kingdom. The medieval time knights can relate to the modern day middle class which is proved, as the middle class is not perceived as too wealthy but, also not too poor (hence the name middle), just as knights were perceived as higher than peasants and lower than lords. On the next step of the feudalism pyramid, are lords or priest who can be compared to the modern day upper middle class.
Furthermore, the lords and priest from the middle ages can relate to the modern times middle upper. The lord’s/priest is defined as, “ Someone or something having power, authority, or influence” (Dictionary). In modern times one thinks of a priest in a church usually in the Christian religion. Although, during the Middle Ages, the Lord’s and the priest had power and authority over the peasants and the knights of the Middle Ages. In the Middle ages the lords and priest, “ Controlled large areas of land, and grew rich from the taxes paid by the peasants who worked on these lands ” (Walker 1). This show that the lords were above the peasants due to the peasants giving the lords and priest taxes. This social class acted as the government. According to this article, “Peasant farmers had to give the church a tithe, one-tenth of everything they produced”(Walker 1). The peasants have to pay ten% of their earnings to the lord/priest.
In the present time, one has to pay seven % of their profits to the government. These percentages are considerably close even though the time periods were more than four hundred and fifty years ago. The upper middle class is referred to as a middle class or those with a three-person household income between $100,000 and $350,000 (Alhanati 1). The upper middle class has grown from 12.9% of the population in 1979 to 29.4% in 2014. “People with higher incomes saw their earnings grow faster than those with lower incomes” (Alhanati 1). This quote depicts the fact people who already were rich would continue to get revenue as opposed to people with the income that was considerably low. Next, and finally, we have the most prestigious class of them all, the kings and queens who can relate to the modern day upper and rich class.
The most important cast of all, the kings and the queens can relate to today’s, modern day upper middle class. One article states, “ In medieval times, the king or queen was the most important person in the country” (Jane 1). This further supports the point that the kings and queens are considered the most important class, just like how the upper class is considered, the most prestigious class of modern times. Most kings and Queens around the world are seen as more of a social figure than a political figure. An example of this is modern time would be Queen Elizabeth and the British Empire. The queen does not do anything politically but more just appears to meetings, conference, parades, etc… as a social figure. According to this article, “ The king led his people in war” (Varnum 1). This quote contributes/hints one to the fact that the king in this society is more of a political figure. This can not only relate to modern-day countries but more specifically, the United States of America with president Donald John Trump. Donald Trump would be considered to be the modern day upper class with his famous statement, “A small loan of a million dollars” (CNN 1). This depicts the fact of him believing that one million dollars is a small amount of money. As Sylvia Chidid states, “These are merely wealthy tycoons. Most of them born with golden spoons,”(12-13 Chidi). Donalds trumps golden spoon is his one million dollar loan. Social inequality can also be shown through gender.
Social inequality though gender is very common in the past and in the present. Gender inequality, by definition, is the unjust behavior of people on the basis of gender. Throughout history, men have been the hunters, officials, and held government positions while women were expected to clean the household and do everything within there power to please the husband. If a woman was seen as out of place, in most societies, she would be killed. Currently, around the world, woman are still seen as having to raise the children and keep the household clean This stereotype about men and woman have lasted until the middle 1900s.
To begin with, gender roles have lasted for years, but many individuals did not believe that the existed until only recent times. Gender roles is defined as “the role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender”(qtd.in Dictionary). Gender roles have emerged as a one of the major problem today, but in the past, gender roles were accepted throughout society and many people did not even know that they existed. The earliest gender roles, that have lasted for generation, is that woman take care of the house and men provide for the family, as discussed earlier.
The individuals in society are polarized by their gender where men hold positions of power and women are powerless and suffer inequality. The socialization processes that have taken place in society have left the individual (woman) unable to be valued with the same equality as men. Capitalism has further exaggerated the inequalities that women suffer, which results in low wage and lower positions within the male-dominated workforce. Where men have effectively excluded women from obtaining equal status. Many women have accepted the monopoly men have over them in society, thus maintaining the status quo. Woman accepting the “power” men have over them lead to a gender pay gap.
Furthermore, the gender pay gap is another form of social inequality. The gender pay gap is the average difference between men’s and women’s aggregate wages or salaries, around the world. The gap is due to a variety of factors, including differences in education choices, differences in preferred job and industry, differences in the types of positions held by men and women. The US has slight discrimination directly based of gender, while in countries such a Somalia or Cambodia, woman are seen as inferior to men, therefore getting paid less, or not even having a chance to apply to a real job. According to a British news article, “ women everywhere find themselves earning less than men for the same types of work; engaging more frequently in unskilled, low-wage labour”(qtd.in Revesz). This article proves that countries, in general, view the woman as inferior. Gender inequality also occurs in the education of individuals.
In regards to education, one can say, gender inequality in education is the discrimination of individuals based on gender in schools. When talking about this gender inequality it is quite obvious that the ones being discriminated are the females. Education is a fundamental right, which should not be restricted to a certain gender, every human being, male or female has a right to education. No matter the form of inequality it is bad for an economy and well-being. The impact is more severe if when it is viewed from the perspective of gender and even more detrimental when the resources allocated are unfair against women. A society that its hierarchical organization has a habit of placing men in choice making positions and women demoted to economic work that seeks limited work and does not give them the satisfactory resources of means of support is a society that is put in danger. According to this article, which was published in 2018, ”Girls and women are still much more likely to never get into a classroom than men and boys”(Website). This not only shows that social inequality is present but also provided a gap between societies. Gender roles apply to social inequality.
Gender roles determine how males and females should think, speak, dress and interact within the context of the society. They are adopted during childhood and normally continue into adulthood. At home, people have certain presumptions about decision making, child-rearing practices, financial responsibilities, and so forth. At work, the presumptions are about power, labour, position and organizational structures. Gender roles influence men and women in almost every aspect of life. The differences between the sexes both real and imagined, are used as a means to justify one’s existence. Gender inequality arises, from these perceived differences. This has not helped the society. A common myth is that woman are the only individuals that have to deal with gender roles, but men can also be affect with gender roles. Parents who are raising boys to be providers, stoic, uncompromising and demanding. Individuals also raise girls to be submissive, passive and to cater to a man’s needs. This misteaching leads to society having a bigger gap, which leads to social inequality.
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