Inequality is an issue that exist throughout the world. According to Samuelsson & Antony (2007) inequality is defined as "the narrow life choices and life chances for individuals and groups of people. If refers not to just what people have; it is not just differences in lifestyle, but also what they can do and what they can be (Samuelsson & Antony, 2007). In most cases minorities, women, poor and the elderly are amongst the groups that are discriminated against the most. These forms of inequality are known as racism, sexism, classism and ageism. All of these forms of inequality decrease the ability of these groups to reach their full potential.
The importance of inequality in the sphere of sociology is associated with the development of a society in which every person can flourish. Inequality does not only have a negative impact upon those that are oppressed or discriminated against, but it also has a negative impact upon the oppressor or those engaging in discrimination. Those that experience inequality often have lower self-esteem and struggle to accomplish their goals. Those who engage in discrimination are left with feelings of superiority and false power. In any case inequality is damaging on a social level because there are always groups of people
The purpose of this discussion is to examine the various facets of inequality as it pertains to urbanism, gentrification, lack of presence in advertisements, private communities and so forth. The research will seek to answer the question: In what ways are inequality present in society?
For the purposes of this discussion several different sources were used. These sources included books, newspapers and journal articles. These sources were chosen because they provide a great deal of input as it pertains how inequality occurs in daily life, while individuals are carrying out basic tasks. The newspaper sources used for this research included "The Toronto Star" and were published in 2008. All of the other sources used were also published in the last decade. These sources were chosen to ensure that the information presented in the discussion is current and the most accurate available.
The researcher utilized the Bracebridge Library to conduct research and gather data critical to the research. The research presented is secondary in nature. That is the research provided does not contain a first-hand account concerning equality. The limits of this type of research is the bias that may be present in the conclusions that the authors have made. In addition, there is also room for error as it pertains to interpreting some of the assertions made in the research.
Overall there was a plethora of research available on the topic of inequality. Additionally, interests in the topic has grown significantly in recent years. This is particularly true in large cities that are undergoing significant changes as a result of revitalization.
Findings and Analysis
Throughout the world inequality is a major issue. In some areas of the world inequality is worse than in other areas of the world. Regardless of the severity of the inequality that exist, Inequality has a serious impact upon the manner in which people live and are able to function within a society. According to Samuelson & Antony (2007) some groups have privileged access to the resources that make life viable in our society. More importantly a critical emphasis means revealing how those groups act to maintain and enhance their privilege, thereby creating problems for other groups of people (Samuelson & Antony 2007, 14)."
Indeed the findings of the research suggest that there are several ways in which privileged groups operate to maintain their privilege. One of the most obvious areas of inequality can be seen in the manner in which products and services are advertised. Upon observing condominium advertisements located in The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail news papers it was evident that certain groups were not represented in the images presented. For instance, none of the advertisements had any visible minorities. In fact the people pictured were always white.
In addition, although many women were pictured in advertisements, the images were sexually suggestive in many instances. Observations of advertisements also found that images of elderly [people were scarce. In fact, most of the people send in the images were middle aged. There also seemed to be some preferences for attempting to gain the attention of upper class individuals through the advertisements. For instance, most of the condominium advertisements would not see any potential buyers unless they had appointments. Presumably having to set up an appointment is designed to weed out individuals that are not of a certain income level.
Although these issues may seem trivial and subtle, they are a serious issue and they have serious consequences for the groups that are not represented in such advertisements. On one level exclusion of certain groups from advertisements and from accessing certain services or products keeps the privileged groups in control. Because these restrictions exist the privileged group is able to maintain an air of superiority and they are also able to maintain their privilege. The groups that are not represented my believe that they product or service is not for them or not available to them.
On a deeper and more substantial level the exclusion of certain groups may cause them to believe that they do not matter and event that they do not exist. The inability to see oneself reflected in daily life is detrimental to the psyche of the excluded groups. They may under perform because they believe that regardless of how hard they work they will never be accepted in mainstream society. This reaction to exclusion is detrimental to the society as a whole because everyone within the society does not have the opportunity or the confidence to excel.
In addition to advertisements there are also other areas in which people with privilege seek to maintain or enhance their status. For instance, some scholars believe that urbanism works to further the divide between the rich and poor. In addition the structure of urbanism is such that it discourages important bonds associated with family relationships. Brym (2008) asserts that while urbanism is economically efficient it is socially destructive (Brym, 2008). The article further explains that urbanism is problematic because it alters the characteristics of neighborhoods and undermines traditional foundations of social unity. The article further explains that urbanism is detrimental because "Urbanites are said to be superficial, unable to step outside their narrow occupational roles to relate to people in a holistic and meaningful way, and guided by an all-consuming drive for success and money (Brym, 2008)."
In addition to urbanism, gentrification can have grave effect on communities and create inequalities that are unforeseen and in some cases difficult to avoid. Gentrification is defined as "the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents ("Gentrification")." As is evident by the very definition of gentrification, it is harmful because it has a tendency to displace poorer residence. In many cases gentrification is also responsible for changing the racial and ethnic composition of a neighborhood. In several cities throughout the world gentrification has completely changed the atmosphere of certain neighborhoods and in some cases the cultural and racial significance of the gentrified neighborhood is no longer apparent.
Gentrification contributes to inequality because the people who are displaced don't have other housing options. In other words, in many instances the neighborhoods that are gentrified are composed of the working poor who are basically priced out of their neighborhoods (Freeman, 2006). In many instances, this includes elderly people who have lived in a particular neighborhoods their entire lives. These elderly individuals often own the homes that they live in but when gentrification occurs property taxes increase and they can no longer afford to live in their homes. Basically people are pushed out of the neighborhoods that they helped to create.
In some cases it is obvious that gentrification occurred purposefully because of the money to be made in areas suffering from urban blight. These areas tend to be close to city centers and increasingly Young urban professionals desire these neighborhoods over the suburbs because of the long commute times (Freeman, 2006). These neighborhoods are ideal because they already have a great deal of the infrastructure needed for thriving neighborhoods, the infrastructure just needs to be revitalized (Freeman, 2006).
Gentrification can take place because those in positions of power and influence are only concerned with staying in positions of power and influence. They do not understand the cultural significance of certain neighborhoods to certain ethnic groups. In addition, they are not concerned with the plight of the poor, because they are not poor. The revitalization of areas suffering from urban blight is absolutely necessary (Freeman, 2006). However, cities and communities that care about equality must begin to consider the human and social cost of gentrification.
Another issue associated with inequality is the postmodern city. The postmodern city is defined as a city that is…