Sociologists Opinion on Whether Gender Discrimination in the Workplace Remains an Issue in Britain Today

On the one hand, some sociologists may agree with this statement. Feminist sociologists believe gender inequality still exists. Holmes (2009) argues that society is an organized in a way that tends to benefit men, society is patriarchal. society is controlled mainly by men, who control politics, the workplace etc, as well as generally having a bigger share of rewards such as wealth and status. Despite the laws passed nearly 40 years ago, gender inequalities still exist at work. Often men and women do not work together in the same occupations. For example, firefighting is male dominated and nursery nursing is female dominated. In 2007, 19% of employed men were working in skilled trades compared with about 2% of women.

Moreover women are likely to be in lower or middle level jobs while men hold the senior management posts. In 2007, for example, 19% of men and 11% of women were employed as managers or senior officials. Sociologists argue this is because women are held back by a glass ceiling. This is an invisible barrier stopping women from entering high powered jobs and this is linked to women working a triple shift. Dunscombe and Marsden argue that many women bear the burden of working a triple shift; this involves paid work, emotional work and housework. Furthermore, women are more likely to experience poverty because they are more likely to head a single parent family due to maternal instinct, the fact that women are more capable of looking after children.

However on the other hand, some sociologists may disagree with this statement. Many changes have taken place during the last 40 years to address gender inequality in areas such as education and employment. These changes are partly linked to the introduction of anti-discrimination laws, for example the equal pay act was introduced in 1970 which meant that men and women must be paid the same salary when doing the same work or work of the same value. Research has suggested that girls are more successful in education for example, more women than men entered full time undergraduate courses at university. In the future it is predicted that more women than men will be working.

Some researchers also argue that the skills seen as most desirable by employers are those traditionally associated with women, for example flexibility, team work and good communication skills. Women are said to have good communication skills due to an idea of bedroom culture. The idea that females were very talkative and so they were more linguistic compared to boys which meant they had higher achievement in education.

On the one hand, some sociologists may agree that the audience’s behaviour is directly affected by what is seen in the media. One approach that supports this is the hypodermic syringe model. This model sees the mass media as a powerful way of controlling and persuading people. The media acts as a ‘drug’. The audience are passive and merely receive injections of messages from the media. These messages then influence their behaviour. Moreover some sociologists argue that the media can lead to hyper reality. This is where audiences lose sense of the difference between the real world and the media created world. The more information, ideas and images the audience is exposed to, the less able they are to separate the two worlds. This then leads to a culture of simulation in which a virtual world becomes more important than the real world.

As a result of the Jamie Bulger case, institutions have been investigating the effects of violence in the media in young people. Researchers argue that exposure of violent killings create a ‘drip-drip’ effect among young people. This results in such behaviour being desensitised meaning it is classed as acceptable behaviour. In 1963, Bandura conducted research with nursery school children. The children were put into four groups, some of which watched a short film showing an adult punching a large inflated plastic doll with a mallet. The children were then placed in a room with several different toys, including a doll and a mallet. Many of the children who had seen the film copied the violent behaviour shown on it while those who didn’t see the film didn’t even notice the doll. These research findings are linked to the hypodermic syringe model the fact that the media injects audiences and they then act on the behaviour shown in the media.

However on the other hand, some sociologists may disagree that the media has a direct impact on audiences. For example the uses and gratifications approach. This approach sees the audience as active, thinking and critical humans and that the effect of the media depends on their use of it McQuail identified four uses of the media-escapism, entertainment, personal relationships and identity. Additionally the decoding approach believes that media content can have multiple meanings. Therefore it can be interpreted and de-coded in a number of ways. How we decode it is shaped by our cultural and social backgrounds. For example screen violence is generally linked to real life violence; however some sociologists disagree with this. They argue that audiences are not passive and they can tell the difference between screen violence and real life violence.

Moreover, peak and fisher argue that television is not to blame for crime and violence and rather media is used as a scapegoat for society’s problems. Gauntlett argues that the media doesn’t have an impact on audiences. He argues that to understand violent people and the causes of their behaviour, researchers should actually study violent people and the causes of their behaviour. Studies which question teenage offenders with histories of violence and compare them with non-offending young people have found that young offenders watched less television and video than other teenagers and had no particular interest in violent programmes.

On the one hand, some sociologists may agree with this statement, when a majority of people hold a certain point of view towards a certain group, that point of view becomes a stereotype. Certain groups such as the working class and ethnic minority groups are stereotyped as deviant and criminals. Stereotyping can make criminal and deviant behaviour worse and this is known as deviancy amplification. Minority ethnic groups are stereotyped negatively and this may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where ethnic groups act upon the label and engage in further deviance. Cicourel undertook participant observation with police and probation officers in California. He focused on juveniles and found that the way a particular juvenile was viewed by officials had a significant impact on how that individual was dealt with.

The decision on whether or not to bring an individual to court was largely influenced by the probation officer’s view of a typical delinquent. A delinquent type in their view was someone from a low-income, broken home and from a minority ethnic group. If an individual’s background fit the type of a typical delinquent, they were more likely to be arrested. This stereotype means ethnic minority groups engage in more deviance due to the self-fulfilling prophecy.

However on the other hand, some sociologists may disagree with this statement. Ethnic minority groups may commit more crime because they suffer from poverty or inadequate socialisation. Most lone-parent families are headed by ethnic minority groups. Young people’s involvement in criminal and deviant behaviour has been explained in terms of the negative influence of family background and home environment. New Right argue that children from parentally deprived homes-in which parents don’t take responsibility for the social upbringing of their children are more prone to crime.

Moreover some sociologists reject the idea that the statistics reflect the actual levels of crime in society and argue instead that that the statistics exaggerate crime among particular ethnic groups. Crime statistics can be seen as reflecting the way that policing is carried out and bias within the criminal justice system. Moreover the Macpherson report highlighted institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police. Institutional racism is a pattern of social institutions such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law – giving negative treatment to a group of people based on their race.

Some ethnic groups may commit more crime than others because they live in deprived areas where there is not much social control. Higher levels of unemployment and relative poverty are found in urban areas than in the suburbs which mean people would be more likely to commit crime. In deprived areas there is much more opportunity to commit crime as there isn’t much formal social control. Formal social control is associated with how the state regulates and controls our behaviour.

On the one hand, some sociologists may agree with this statement. Supporters of the culture of poverty approach argue that poverty persisted from one generation to the next, locking people into a cycle of deprivation. Through socialisation within families, such values were passed on from parents to their children, in this way poverty persisted over time from generation to generation and locked people into a cycle of deprivation.

Moreover children who are born into poverty don’t have as many life chances as someone who is well off. Life chances refer to people’s chances of achieving positive or negative outcomes as they progress through life. These outcomes relate to many aspects of life including health and education. It is said that children born into poverty experience material deprivation meaning they have insufficient money to be able to afford goods and services. As a result of this people may not be able to afford a balanced diet. Poverty may result in ill health during childhood. Furthermore, in terms of education material deprivation can affect performance at school. Douglas argues that living conditions, poor housing and lack of quiet places to do work can adversely affect performance at school, their poor performance at school then leads to them having difficulty finding employment and they don’t have the qualifications they need.

However on the other hand, some sociologists may disagree with this statement. Sociologists identify many other explanations of poverty, for example welfare dependency. New Rights identified the emergence in Britain of an ‘underclass’, a group whose attitudes and values are different from those of mainstream society. The concept of an underclass describes people who experience long-term poverty and who are unable for whatever reason to gain a living. According to New Right approaches, the ‘undeserving poor’ remain in poverty because the welfare state encourages them to depend on state provision. State provision is too generous and makes the problem of poverty worse by creating ‘welfare dependency’ and the development of an underclass.

According to Marxists, poverty results from the class-based inequalities that are built into capitalist society. The Marxist approach argues that capitalism as an economic system generates extreme wealth for the capitalist class but it also produces poverty among sections of the working class. Poverty is seen as a product of the way capitalist society works. In a class society that is based on inequalities of wealth, a minority group makes a profit out of the rest of the population. It is therefore inevitable that some people will be poor.

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