Craft a 3–4 page response to the question, "Is income inequality inevitable?" In
doing so be sure that you analyze factors that cause economic inequality, as well
as propose solutions to reduce inequality.
Inequality is a central concept in sociology. Every society has a stratification
system—an arrangement of society into groups that are unequal with regard to
things valued in that society. In the United States, for example, we stratify people
based on social class (or how much income and wealth they have). Our location
within the stratification system impacts much of our lives. How would your life be
different if you came from a family with billions of dollars? Would you have gone
to the same school? Played with the same toys? Gone on the same vacations?
While inequality exists in every society, it tends to be different as to how it is
structured according to time period or location. In earlier times, inequality was
based on who owned the land. Today, it is shaped by a variety of factors
including income, wealth, gender, race/ethnicity, age, and ability status. For
example, women and some racial/ethnic groups make less for the same work as
males. Despite this, we have a tendency in the United States to believe that
neither social class nor class conflict exist. Unfortunately, research and data
suggest otherwise. We still have a division of people based on their income and
wealth, with some at the top and others at the bottom. While we belong to a
wealthy, industrially developed country, poverty still exists.
Sociologists examine these issues of poverty and inequality in a society and try
to better understand why structures of inequality exist in society. Do you think
inequality is always going to exist? Focus on this as you delve into the resources
and prepare for the assessment.
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your
proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:
● Competency 3: Explain the significance of social inequality for the
individual and society.
○ Explain whether or not economic inequality is inevitable.
○ Propose strategies to reduce inequality.
● Competency 5: Analyze the impact of social change on society and social
○ Examine potential changes to increase equality of opportunity.
○ Analyze factors that contribute to the growth of economic inequality.
● Competency 6: Compose text that articulates meaning relevant to its
purpose and audience.
○ Develop text using organization, structure, and transitions that
demonstrate understanding of cohesion between main and
Wealth and Income Inequality
The following resources provide more information about the consequences of
wealth and income inequality.
● NBC Nightly News. (2013, September 17). Troubling numbers point to
uncertain economic recovery [News report]. NBCUniversal Media.
○ This video speaks about median household income and the effects
of the economy since the recession.
○ Run time: 2 minutes.
● Meet the Press. (2015, March 15). What is the middle class in America?
[News report]. NBCUniversal Media.
○ This video explains what it means to be in America's lower, middle,
and upper class, and why politicians mention the middle class so
○ Run time: 2 minutes.
● Program on Inequality and the Common Good. (n.d.). Wealth inequality.
Retrieved from http://inequality.org/wealth-inequality
● Jacobs, W. (2017, January 4). Mapping economic inequality in the U.S.
[Blog post]. The Society Pages. Retrieved from
● Syed, J. (2018, April 19). How wealthy parents reproduce college success
[Blog post]. The Society Pages. Retrieved from
● Hart-Landsberg, M. (2017, January 11). US working people hurt more by
rising income inequality than slow economic growth [Blog post]. The
Society Pages. Retrieved from
● Inequality: Trends and Causes.
○ One of the questions of interest to sociologists concerns how
position and social standing affect people's lives. This activity
focuses on social stratification, a term used to describe the way in
which a society classifies or organizes people into a hierarchy.
○ A way to visualize this concept is to think of a layer cake; each
layer represents a particular group or strata, such as social
class (low, working, middle, upper). Developing an
understanding of social stratification and how it contributes to
inequality is essential for successful completion of
Assessment 4, where you will explain how social stratification
and inequality affect individuals and society.
● Seccombe, K., James, D., & Waters, K. B. (1998). "They think you ain't
much of nothing": The social construction of the welfare mother. Journal of
Marriage & Family, 60(4), 849–865.
● Macionis, J. J. (2019). Society: The basics (15th ed.). New York, NY:
Pearson. Available in the courseroom via the VitalSource Bookshelf link.
○ Chapter 9, "Social Stratification," pages 240–280. This chapter will
help you understand the different ways sociologists define inequality,
as well as introduce you to related concepts like social mobility.
American culture emphasizes self-sufficiency and working hard to get where you
want. It is assumed that everyone has the ability to succeed if they work hard
enough. For this assessment, write a paper applying key concepts regarding
social stratification to argue for or against the inevitability of economic inequality.
While there are many forms of inequality in the United States, for this
assessment we will be focusing solely on economic inequality.
Write an essay in which you complete all of the following:
● Part 1: Explain whether or not you think economic inequality is inevitable.
○ Respond to the question: Is economic inequality inevitable? Why or
● Part 2: Analyze factors that contribute to growing economic inequality.
○ Analyze what factors have contributed to the growth of economic
inequality in the past few decades. What factors cause economic
○ Propose strategies to reduce economic inequality.
● Part 3: Examine ways to increase equality of opportunity.
○ Reflect on ideas of equal opportunity and analyze why or why not
you think American society provides everyone with an equal
opportunity for success.
○ Examine what kinds of changes would help establish greater
equality of opportunity for everyone in American society.
● Written communication: Develop text using organization, structure, and
transitions that demonstrate understanding of cohesion between main and
subtopics. Written communication is free of errors that detract from the
● Sources: Cite at least three scholarly sources.
● Length: 3–4 pages, not including title and reference pages.
● Format: Include a title page and reference page. Use in-text citations to
cite your sources. [Example: Writing becomes better as the child matures
(Britton, Thomas, & Miller, 1996)]
● Font and size: Times New Roman, 12-point.
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