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Politics and Life Chances

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How does the distribution of political power affect the life chances of people who are under-represented in terms of race/ethnicity, class and gender? analyze how special interest groups, such as lobbies and grass roots organizations, may promote or prevent social change?

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Life Chances & Political Power

Can political power affect the life chances of people, especially those considered part of the minority and the under-represented? To answer this question, let us first define what life chances mean. Life chances or 'lebenschancen' is a political theory introduced by German thinker Max Weber. He posits that given certain factors and opportunities, an individual's probability to improve, succeed and better his/her life is probable. This can be taken in the opposite direction by looking at what is lacking or absent, that without certain opportunities and factors, an individual might not have a chance in life and in bettering is/her future. Consider for example middle class American kids - born to working parents of good moral values and in communities where education, ambition and empowerment are key. Kids in such placement are better off and have a better chance in life than say, kids in refugee camps in Somalia whose families have no hope for the ...

Solution Summary

The life chances of people as determined by distribution of political power and of race, ethnicity, gender and class is discussed and explored. references are listed for further exploration of the topic. A word version is also attached.

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Explain how an individual's ascribed social class position at birth may affect what Max Weber called life chances, or the ability of an individual to attain the following "good things" that a society values:
good health care
longevity
a good job
security
status
wealth
power
prestige
Describe how life chances may affect an individual's life goals (positive or negative).
In what ways may life chances be irrelevant?
Give examples of how the concept of life chances operates in the following systems:
a caste system
a class system
a one-party, Communist system (such as China)

Explain how an individual's ascribed social class position at birth may affect what Max Weber called life chances, or the ability of an individual to attain the following "good things" that a society values:
good health care
longevity
a good job
security
status
wealth
power
prestige
Describe how life chances may affect an individual's life goals (positive or negative).
In what ways may life chances be irrelevant?
Give examples of how the concept of life chances operates in the following systems:
a caste system
a class system
a one-party, Communist system (such as China)

Good health care
If you belong to a lower social class your access to health care is limited. In a caste system it may even be believed that you sickness is ordained by the gods. In a class system your access to health care will be determined by the amount of money you have. Even you are perceived as belonging to a lower social class such as African-American or Hispanic, if you have the money you will be treated. In a one-party system you pretty much are at the mercy of the government. Here you may be denied treatment based on ideology or finances but typically not because of social class.

Longevity
In a caste system your longevity will be hindered if you are born into an extreme lower class such as the untouchable class in India. Otherwise, if you are somewhere in the middle longevity won't be affected much. In a class system results are mixed. Those in the upper classes enjoy more health care and yet at the same time have more access to luxury which might encourage laziness. The poor on the other hand typically are more obese at least in America due to a poor diet. In a one-class society your place of birth plays little role in longevity. It is your political choices after birth that have more of an impact. As a matter of fact if the one-party system is recently new and was formed out of revolution then having been born into the former upper-class system could be a death sentence of sorts.

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