The paper should address one of the social problems that are happening in our society. The paper has to show my ability to apply one of the three social theories (functionalism, symbolic interactionism, or conflict sociology.) The paper should be no less than 4 pages long, where I also have to use at least 3 sources.
Explaining Unemployment Using Conflict Sociology Theory
Unemployment has become a global problem. It is one of the most pressing social issues affecting both developed and developing countries. It is an economic condition in which people actively seeking employment are not able to secure a job. By extension, the unemployment rate is a measure of the number of unemployed people in comparison with the entire labor force. Conflict sociology theory focuses on the social, political, and economic inequality in society. Widely identified with Karl Max, it states that conflicts and disagreements arise when social, political, and economic resources are shared unequally based on class and other differentiating factors such as race, sexuality, culture, gender, and religion (Sanderson and Randall 12). It clearly explains the continuation of unemployment at alarming and fast rates by positing that inequalities in power and resources are integrated into social structures in such a way that those who benefit from these stratifications ensure that the systems are maintained so that they continue being sustainable and beneficial to them and others in their circle. This paper explores the problem of unemployment from the perspective of conflict sociology theory.
Firstly, conflict sociology theory focuses primarily on the concentration of socio-economic and political power in a certain network or circle in society (Sanderson and Randall 94). This power is bound in the similarity of race, gender, religion, and culture. The theory supports the fact that this characteristic is deeply embedded in the socialization of a particular group despite efforts to level the ground and eliminate this form of power dominance. Additionally, people generally tend to have a sense of kinship binding them with those with whom they share common characteristics on different levels. Therefore, it is a common phenomenon that is almost instinctively embraced, whereby people make choices that will be beneficial to fellow kinsmen and women. This social issue is a very active contributor to the unemployment problem affecting most societies today.
In Europe and the United States, the unemployment rate ranges between five percent and six percent. The two regions’ unemployment levels have recorded small improvements in the past years through these slight improvements do not seem sustainable for long-term benefits. In contrast, developing countries have taken the biggest blow in terms of unemployment growth. In the developed world, the race has been a big power-play factor in almost all sectors of economic and political dominance. A vivid comparison contained in a Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release published on April 1, 2016, shows that the unemployment rate for whites is 4.3 percent while that of whites is 9.0 percent (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This staggering difference is best explained by the relatively lower power status of black Americans, a view that is supported by conflict sociology theory.
Cultural differences also play a vital role in variations in levels of unemployment. Every workplace has its set of governing structures that constitute its culture as a unit. Many potential employees are often disqualified on the basis of culture. However, this is a complex problem because in most cases, culture is often identified as a reason for denying a qualified person a job. However, there are some situations where valid reasons for rejecting cultures that encourage corruption, poor communication, and unacceptable work ethics. This problem can be traced back to ineffective education systems that contribute to unequal distribution of resources. These negative cultural differences have been neglected as a contributor to unemployment because they constitute very sensitive matters. Other factors such as gender, sexuality, and religion have also contributed to the unequal distribution of power and resources, with religious divisions being observed primarily in the security and education sectors. All these factors greatly contribute to competition for resources and subsequent social conflicts demonstrate the appropriateness of conflict sociology in explaining unemployment.
Conflict sociology theory also provides a framework for the understanding of political-economic forces that shape the employment scene. There is a strong relationship between politics and economics. Political leaders implement political structures that create economic benefits to those in their networks while economic interests create a platform for political leaders to determine how resources will be allocated to different groups. Therefore, both parties find systems to support each other in addition to empowering members of their respective networks. These stakeholders often hold power over these sectors and encourage the participation of the stakeholders who will facilitate the perpetuation of their interests in those sectors. This permanence of specific employees and positions locks other equally talented employees. Furthermore, these influencers have heightened the level of employment segregation based on factors of power. The theory explains that this situation causes conflict between those who are excluded from employment and those who are included in it.
Accordingly, political and economic tensions spark economic meltdowns which only serve to exacerbate the unemployment problem. For example, the 2008 economic crash was caused by a combination of political and economic factors that were rooted in social-class conflict arising from competition for resources (Murat). The real estate bubble which had been caused by class competition offset the burst and crash of the real estate and financial markets which caused the recession. The effects of this recession are still evident today with the most obvious one being unemployment.
Conflict sociology also explains the growth of unemployment by expounding on the issue of globalization and the operations of transnational firms which have created differences in power relations. The world has been made more connected through improved, efficient, and fast communication systems. This recent advancement has shifted certain markets by creating comparative advantages to specific countries and social groups. In turn, this has created a situation whereby the availability of cheaper labor and manufacturing had completely moved certain products to certain countries leaving previous manufacturers and producers with rising unemployment rates. Although many people support these concepts of specialization, comparative advantage, and free trade, others abhor it because of the jobs lost.
Evidently, comparative advantage fails to address the issue of domination of production by specific entities, thereby causing conflict. For example, America’s rising unemployment rate has been contributed to by the exporting of jobs to foreign cheap-labor countries (Howell 67). Many expensively paid U.S. employees are being rendered redundant and their jobs are taken by lowly-paid Asian workers particularly in the manufacturing sector. Despite the development-oriented intentions, globalization has created a system where employees are chosen based on convenience and affordability rather than quality and skills. This situation has empowered mass and low-cost producers.
The best way of explaining all these dimensions of unemployment in today’s society is by using the conflict sociology theory. It focuses on power, inequality, and resource distribution in assessing why some people have greater access to jobs than others. Evidently, every society is defined by power divisions on the basis of class, gender, sexuality, culture, and religion. These divisions cause conflict due to the domination of economic opportunities by some groups to the exclusion of others. Incidentally, this conflict is necessary for social change to occur. Today, unemployment people are in a struggle to wrestle power from their employed counterparts in order to secure jobs and gain socio-economic and economic power through class mobility.
Howell, David. Fighting Unemployment: The Limits of Free Market Orthodoxy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
Murat, Tasci. High Unemployment after recession: Mostly Cyclical, but adjusting slow. Economic Commentary, 2011. Web.
Sanderson, Stephen, and Randall, Collins. Conflict Sociology: A Sociological classic. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Employment Situation – March 2016. April 1, 2016. Web.
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