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Example Answers for AQA GCSE Sociology Paper 2 (2019) - Stratification


Last updated 18 Jan 2020

Here are some example answers to the written questions on Stratification on the AQA GCSE (9-1) Sociology, Paper 2 (2019)

Please refer to the 2019 exam paper for questions and items. These responses have been written by experienced AQA teachers/examiners, but without reference to a mark scheme.

Question 3

According to Marxists, social class could limit or prevent social mobility, as a working-class person may lack the same life chances as a middle-class person. For example, a working-class person might underachieve at school because of material deprivation, which might mean they are more likely to get fewer qualifications and, as a result, get a lower paid job.

Question 4

One type of authority, according to Weber, could be charismatic. This is when a person will gain authority and power, and gain the right to rule, because they have exceptional leadership skills. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.

Question 5

Questionnaires do not let the respondent elaborate and the respondents are restricted to the options on the questionnaire. The problem with measuring relative poverty is that it is subjective / biased.

Question 6

As the table suggests, working-class men are most likely to live in higher levels of deprivation. This could be due a cycle of deprivation. This is when someone’s parents may be deprived which could mean they are more likely to underachieve at school, due to material and or cultural deprivation. This could mean they may get a lower paid job due to achieving low qualifications and this would then lead to higher a likelihood of deprivation due to having a low-paying job.

Question 7

A disadvantage of using relative poverty as a measurement of poverty is that relative poverty is subjective or biased. It is not a clear-cut measurement, like absolute poverty, as it is not fixed. It would change over time and from individual to individual. There is not a consensus of what is deprivation, as this could vary on personal preferences and lifestyle. For example, historically, not eating meat weekly was viewed as relative deprivation, but many people do this out of choice (e.g. vegans).

Question 8

Devine suggested that there was a myth of the affluent worker and that the ‘new working class’ did not fully accept capitalism and they still believed there were class inequalities. Devine interviewed a sample of male manual workers employed at the Vauxhall car plant in Luton and their wives and found that working-class people felt that rise in cost of living and the pressure of consumer lifestyles meant that class inequalities remained.

Question 9

Stereotypes still exist around the elderly and young people, which are sometimes reinforced by the media. This then creates stigmas for these age groups, which could reduce their life chance. For example, an older person might have a stereotype as frail, which might reduce the job possibilities open. Likewise, a young person could be portrayed as lazy and could gain fewer job opportunities, as stereotypes in the media are taken on by the public.

Question 10

The term glass ceiling means being able to the see the opportunities available but, because of barriers, not being able to reach them. This term is commonly associated with feminists, who believe that society remains patriarchal (male dominated) and women, although they can see opportunities, are unable to reach them. This glass ceiling could be due oppression and exploitation in work, home and state. Feminist, Walby, would agree with this view, as she believes women experience control in every sphere of their lives, which makes it harder for women to have the same opportunities as men. For example, women still experience lower wages than men, despite the Equal Pay Act.

However, some sociologist would disagree that there is large gender pay gap and would argue that it is closing in more economically developed countries. However, feminists would argue that the women may have a greater chance of getting equal pay but they do not have the same job opportunities due to stereotypes around women being housewives and the lack of availability of flexible working conditions.

To conclude, acts like the Equal Pay Act, Sex Discrimination Act and the emphasis of GIST in schools have helped to close the gender pay gap and remove the glass ceiling but, arguably, it still exists, especially for working-class and minority-ethnic women.

Question 11

New Right theorists would agree that a dependency culture exists amongst some groups, who they would refer to as the underclass. New Right sociologist, Murray, would agree that a dependency culture exists because the underclass relies on benefits, which creates a dependency culture, which normalizes living on benefits and reduces aspirations. This could cause multiple generations to rely on the state because they are unwilling to seek employment and they have grown up accepting this lifestyle. In criticism of this view would be the Marxist view, which would suggest that increasing class inequalities, rise in cost of living and the lack of fair opportunities are some of the reasons for why poorer people in society need the welfare state.

New Right sociologists would disagree and argue that the benefits system acts like a nanny state and creates a poverty trap, where the benefits system it too attractive for the underclass who are believed by Murray to be lazy. In criticism of this, if there were fairer wages then people would not need the support of the welfare system.

Furthermore, some sociologists would argue that the welfare system is necessary, as the cost of living is increasing and the minimum wage does not meet this. There is an increasing number of people known as the working poor, who work, but rely on the welfare system in order to cope with the increasing living costs in the UK.

Overall, most Marxist sociologists would disagree that the welfare state creates a culture of dependency. Instead they would argue that it is essential, because class inequalities exist and that without the welfare system there would be more homelessness and starvation in the UK.

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