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Contemporary Social Structures sample essay

Define and explain the concept ‘Contemporary Social structures’ and the role of such structures and the role of such structures in regulating life and beliefs. Structures are “both the medium and the outcome of the practices which constitutes social systems”- Anthony Giddens (1938) in simpler terms people shape structure, but structure determines what people do. Contemporary Social structures are restraints that affect the lives all members of society. Whether we are aware of it or not, we live in societies that consist of social structures, every society has its own set of social structures such as religion, class, gender and ethnicity. We also have the social structures that interlink such as the educational political social structure as public schools, colleges and universities depend on the government for their funds. social structures are embodied in our everyday actions, thoughts and beliefs as human beings, there are effective in controlling as well as organizing the behaviour of an individual or individuals as the main purpose of a social structure is to maintain a co-operative regime for all members of society, however there are consequences for certain groups in society.

Every society has its own set of contemporary social constructions for an example class; gender and ethnicity are all constraints that all societies experience. An example of a social structure is class, a class structure is found in most if not all societies, it is one of the main sources of economic inequality, certain individuals would identify there being to classes in society: the Bourgeoisie who own all the means of production and the Proletariat who are exploited by the Bourgeoisie. As mentioned above Gender is also a constraint when regarding social structures, the term ‘gender roles’ has been commonly used to describe the prescribed roles of a male and female in society. In the past females have struggled to be accepted in to the workforce, even though this has changed dramatically during recent years equal opportunities are not the same for men and women due to the social structures and the way they regulate our life and beliefs, for an example a man is given 6 weeks maternal leave as society believes it is the males role to the ‘breadwinner’ while the female receives a years maternal leave as she is seen as the ‘homemaker’ that stays home taking responsibility for the children and all the homely duties.

Although this may not apply to all societies some would describe Ethnicity as playing a part on what we as individuals can achieve in life by affecting our positions in the labour market. A social structure is formed by the distribution of wealth, power and prestige. They consists of beliefs about the world and both compel and regulate our actions, as mentioned previously religion , gender and ethnicity are social structures, they are all created within society itself , each and every group share common attitudes , views, values, social norms, lifestyle and in some cases material goods. Individuals in society stay within the prescribed guidelines of the social structures they were born and socialised into, that refers to being rich or poor, male or female or being young middle aged and old. Class structure determines our life chances and is the basic structure for all modern societies. According to McGregor (1989) class is the main cause of inequality. He explains that different class groups begin their lives with unequal opportunities which effects the type of education an individual will receive , the social connections an individual will make and the way that individual will speak ad behave.

He also argues that the class that an individual belongs to is determined by various factors such as power, family background, wealth, lifestyle, mannerisms, social interactions, and employment; he also describes class as being separated in to three different groups which are the upper class, middle class and lower class. Abercrombie (2000), states that the upper-class is distinguished from others, by their wealth and power. In contrast to the other classes the upper class only consists of a few people, the individuals included in this group are employers who own large amounts of land and others who are self-employed, have careers as managers or professionals. Wealth is distributed among the wealth in many ways such as inheritance, with wealth individuals are given the opportunity to live the life they will lead. The educational system reinforces many inequalities insuring that those of the highest class have access to better opportunities and better chances of reaching success. Members of the upper class attend private school together.

From sharing educational experiences the upper class learn how to interact with each other; form long lasting relationships with each other which gives them an advantage, a series of events are created meaning that when their children go to private school their lives will follow the same path. From these important contacts the upper class make simply by going to school they have formed very powerful contacts who have the potential to enhance their career prospects and greater opportunities of success in which ever career they wish to pursue. In most societies there is a clear division of labour between men and woman and in general women are always in the inferior position.

Gender plays a role in the way we are treated by other members of society. We are also taught to behave in certain ways depending on whether we are male or female. Males are typically expected to feel, think and behave in a ‘masculine way’ and females in a ‘feminine’ way. Some examples of this are girls playing with dolls, preparing for when they will be mothers and boys playing with action figures, learning the male traits such as aggression and dominance. In some societies a woman is born into a certain social structure that includes a life of housework, cooking and child rearing. Women are less likely to be offered positions in the labour market in comparison to men and are unable to attain positions of power with a high income such as men do. Women are employment but in some cases will still earn a lower income than the male dominated position.


As explained in the essay, social structures are restraints that affect that will affect all members of society. Class is a basic contributing factor of all social structures to the unequal economy and affects the life of all members of society. Those who are at the top of the economy ladder come from wealthy family backgrounds. These people benefit in many ways such as promotional opportunities and job security.

Migrants with non-English speaking backgrounds have difficulty in finding quality employment however its far more difficult for the women in this group, As gender is a factor in employment opportunities, women who are from an ethnic group of the minority have the least opportunity in the labour market, the limited education and training, poor health and nutrition, lack of freedom and denied access to resources are all factors that reduce the quality of life and hinder economic efficiency and growth for women, people of diverse ethnic groups and people with poor family backgrounds. Social structures unquestionably have an impact on our lives and depending on the circumstances the impact for some is usually one that is undesirable. Society cannot be blamed for the social structures that it has created, it is a gradual process, it has taken many years to create these constraints and it will take many more to break them down.

References /Bibliography
Fulcher,C .& J.,Scott, 2007, Sociology,3RD ed, Oxford
Abercrombie, N., 2000, The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 4TH ed, Penguin Books, London McGregor, C., 1989, `Class’, in Four Dimensional Social Space, Jatenburg & P.D’Alton, Harper & Row, Sydney Webb,W. & Westergaard,H. & Trobe.K & Steele.L ,2008,AS SOCIOLOGY,2ND ed,Napier Press,Brentwood

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