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Class Inequality: Functionalism

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Modern societies are characterised by a specialised occupational division of labour. It is characterised by social divisions. People are content with their place in the division of labour as they believe in its moral worth. Value consensus means people accept the legitimacy of stratification (occupations are graded and the most valuable should be rewarded greater). Stratification is beneficial because it sets limits on competition and aspirations. If people could compete freely for jobs consensus would break down. Ascription would lead to conflict as people have no say in the matter. Moral order could be disturbed by sudden shifts in society e.g. recession.
Social inequality is functional and inevitable. Social systems need to be hierarchical to achieve order. Systems are based on consensus about what society values:  Kinship  Personal qualities  Achievement  Possessions  Authority Those highest valued are the highest rewarded.
Davis & Moore
Stratification is a permanent and universal feature of society. It is inevitable and needs to motivate people – hence society offers higher rewards for the most important jobs.