Social class and inequality

Article Link;

Article title; Separate and Unequal, “The Price of Inequality,” by Joseph E. Stiglitz




Sometimes, the people in the society are differentiated on the bases of socioeconomic strata such as social status, wealth, occupation, and income. Such stratification can be based relative social position of an individual within the social unit, geographical region, category, and social group. In the western communities, social stratification is differentiated on class; this can be upper, middle and the lower class, people are discriminated merely because they come from various class. Classification of people by social strata ranges from state-based, complex to feudal and to state societies. Examining the social stratification structure emerges from inequalities among individuals in the nation, hence the degree of social inequality determines the social stratum of an individual. The review, therefore, analyzes how an article in the famous New York Times presents an example of social stratification. The report examines the article using the conflict theory; this will help in better understanding of the material. In other words, the paper review will analyze the conflict theory behind the article. The discussion will also use one of the concepts from the book chapters to interpret the report; this is the social class and inequality concept. And lastly, the paper will examine how sociological knowledge has helped in better understanding of the information in the article.

Summary of the article

In the article, Thomas Edsall explains the “price of inequality” by Stiglitz. He says that many people perceive that the two-tier society is as a result of the technological and social change that has been happening over the years. However, this is not the cause; inequality is as a result of political power by the regulatory processes in the country. In the article, Stiglitz stands apart from the people notion; he seeks to shift the debate terms and rejects such ideas of inevitability. Although there are many factors causing inequality in society, politics plays the most part in shaping the market (Edsall, 2). This means that the more influential people in the community take advantage over the other people in society, and this creates inequality among the people. As a professor of economics in Colombia, Stiglitz talks about the economic orthodoxy in the united states. What are the causes of this inequality? And what should be done to end this economic orthodoxy? In his view, the author feels that disparity doesn’t only violates moral values but is closely related to the money-driven political system. In other words, he tried to say that the powerful in society insulate themselves from the competitive forces by winning state protected market share and favorable tax treatment. According to the author, community at large is supposed to benefit from the free and competitive market. However, this is not the case; few people in authority use their power to make gains at the expense of the majority in society.

Theory and concept application in the article.

The theory used in explaining the idea in the article is “conflict theory.” This theory states that conflicts arise when power, status, and resources are unevenly distributed among the people in society. In the article, the power is described as the control of politics, accumulated wealth, resource and social status of an individual. The theory helps to understand that the inequality described is a result of a powerful minority class ruling over the majority poor. This undoubtedly helps in understanding the economic orthodox taking place in the United States. The conflict theorists deeply criticize the social stratification, saying that it benefits only a few people, and not all the individuals in society (Lee, 19). For example, an individual in power winning state protected market share and tax treatment while the majority poor lacks all these benefits. According to conflict theorists, stratification perpetuates inequality in society. Here, the theorists try to bring out awareness on how an affluent society like America can have poor people. The theorists draw their work from Carl Marx; during the 19th century, people were divided on a single line of stratification, either owning a company or working in the company. This is precisely what is presented in the article; the stratification is either you are in power or not. This is what determines whether you get the benefits or not. The inequality today has resulted from the greed of the minority capitalists in control, satisfied at the expense of the majority class in the society.


The sociological knowledge gained from the theory and concept has greatly helped in understanding the information in the article. The separation and inequality in the article by Edsall, “The Price of Inequality, by Joseph E. Stiglitz” is as a result of status levels in the society. The majority of poor people are usually oppressed by the money hungry, a powerful minority in the government. According to the conflict theorists, stratification promotes inequality between various classes in society. Social stratification is bad in the community, it, therefore, needs to be reverted.


Work cited

Edsall, Thomas. “‘The Price of Inequality,’ By Joseph E. Stiglitz.” Nytimes.Com, 2012,      stiglitz.html.

.Lee, David J., and Bryan S. Turner. Conflicts about the class: Debating inequality in late industrialism. Routledge, 2014.

MacDonald, Kevin. “Evolution, psychology, and a conflict theory of culture.” Evolutionary             Psychology 7.2 (2009): 147470490900700206