Inequality is a key issue experienced in almost every society globally. According to the structural functionalism theory, the universal existence of inequality is brought by society’s tendency to categorize some positions as being very important for its survival (Ferris & Stein, 2008). Inequality is important in creating social stability in that, positions which are hard to achieve are given priority as incentives to allow people to achieve them. For instance, the society sets a higher value on jobs that are fundamental to the survival of the society. It is a way creating different rewards for such jobs as an incentive for the best-qualified people to occupy them. This is what results to the difference in income hence the emergence of the poor and wealthy in our societies.
Despite inequality being associated with negative impacts in the society, it has a fundamental role in societies with open system kind of social mobility. These are societies which give individuals ample opportunities to move from one social class to another within the hierarchical system of social classes (Ferris & Stein, 2008). In such systems, inequality helps people move from one social class to another. As per the structural functionalism, roles that are important for the functioning of the society are given more incentives so that people can fill them. People will aim at getting those roles so that they move from lower social classes to higher social classes. This aids in boosting the general economic status of the society.
Finally, inequality in our societies has benefits as well as negative consequences. The major benefit is that it helps to provide a workforce for undesirable jobs and other social services. On top of that, it creates a lower social class that helps in purchasing of some products such as second-hand goods which otherwise would have been disposed of. According to social conflict theory, inequality creates conflicts between the poor and the rich (Goldman, Cooper & Kugler, 2017). It forces some people to have access to poor resources such as schools and hospitals.
- Ferris, K., & Stein, J. (2008). The real world: An introduction to sociology. WW Norton.
- Goldman, B. M., Cooper, D. A., & Kugler, T. (2017, January). A Realistic Group Conflict Theory Approach to Racial Discrimination against Ex-Felons in Hiring. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2017, No. 1, p. 14625). Academy of Management.