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    Functionalism/Conflict Theory:Middle Class economic security

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    Social Stratification "Economic Security for Middle Class Families"

    Please review the following article and answer the following questions by comparing functionalism theory and social conflict theory.


    How are relevant concepts and key characteristics (Compare) of these two theoretical approaches the same or different? To what level of explanation and to analyze the origins of the problems featured in the article?

    How would each approach explain the underlying cause(s) of the problems in this reading?

    Identify which theory you found to best interpret this issue. Use it to provide some possible resolutions to the identified problems.

    What is the sociological definition of stratification? How does it differ from your cultural understanding of this idea?
    In this case how does social stratification affect the individual in a society?

    How do functionalists conceive of stratification? How is this different from the conflict perspective?

    Can you offer an interpretation of the factual and statistical claims presented by this author. Do you think they are valid and objective? What are you basing your position on? (Use as many of the below elements in formation of your answers)

    ? Identify key elements of social class, as sociologists use the term.
    ? Identify how social class is constructed in everyday social settings.
    ? Evaluate perspectives on social structuring of inequality.
    ? Examine how theory can be applied to a contemporary social issue.
    ? Discuss stratification practices in the U. S., and how they impact the working poor, as well as corporate welfare.

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    Solution Preview

    Dear Student,
    The solution below is a comprehensive article analysis and summary on Economic Security of Middle class families utilising the theories of functionalism and social conflict which provides narratives that you can use for the purpose of answering the questions presented in the original posting (see problem). The classic textbook by Macionis primarily influences the theoretical approaches. I hope this solution helps. Thank you for using Brainmass.

    OTA 105878/Xenia Jones
    Article Summary: Economic Security for Middle Class Families

    The Article from the website Economist's View reviews and places opinion on the recent report of a study conducted by Demos and Brandeis university on the status of American Middle Class Families. The study called 'By a Thread' aims to measure and show the true state of the American Middle Class Strata by utilising what they termed as the 'New Middle Class Security Index'. This index is used against available Middle Class Families government data which is aimed by the non-partisan research center to be the first among a series of reports. Thomas Shapiro (2007), Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis and a co-author of the report specifies further,

    "Much like a common cholesterol test that shows whether someone's cardiovascular health is at risk, the Middle Class Security Index shows that financial health eludes the majority of the American middle class...It also points to specific areas?like lack of assets?that inhibit financial security...."

    The resulting study shows worrying trends:

    Only 31 percent of families who would be considered middle-class by income are financially secure.

    One in four middle-class families match the profile for being at high risk of slipping out of the middle class altogether.

    More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever.

    Middle-class families have median debt of $3,500 and at least half of them have no assets.

    Only 13 percent of middle-class families are secure in their asset levels?meaning that they have enough to cover most of their living expenses for nine months should their regular income cease; 79 percent are "at risk" in this category, meaning they could not cover the majority of their expenses for even three months. Another 9 percent are "borderline."

    Twenty-one percent of middle-class families have less than $100 per week ($5,000 per year) remaining after meeting essential living expenses. These families are living from paycheck to paycheck with very little margin of security.

    - L. Gardner, Brandeis University, 2007

    The Study is a critical study, offering solutions from a socio-political position to combat the threats that face the Middle-class. The aim of the study is to present the strengths and vulnerabilities to the Middle Class and to identify the barriers they face in terms of stability and development. Historical and economic data is also studied to create a socio-historical picture of the varied other elements and causes that affect and keep the Middle Class from truly being economically stable (i.e. generation-long wages stagnation since the 1920's). The first study released, 'By A Thread' shows that only about 1 in 3 Middle Class families in America is secure with the 2 in danger of falling into great difficulty i.e. traps of borderline or at risk qualification. The study is ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution below is a comprehensive 2,046-word APA-format essay that provides an analysis and summary on the topic of Economic Security of Middle class (see original article review listed in the problem) families utilising the theories of functionalism and social conflict which provides narratives that students can use for the purpose of answering the questions presented in the original posting (see problem). The classic textbooks by John Macionis primarily influences the theoretical approaches and views utilised. Current and past socio-historical events in American society are also referenced to further clarify points. A word version is attached. References, both web and print are listed for expansion.