The table below compares earnings at age 29 of female graduates compared to non graduates for different subject areas.
As you can see, female economics graduates earn 150% more than non graduates, with medicine not far behind and most of the rest of the STEM subject graduates earning 100% more.
Meanwhile at the other end of the scale social care and create arts degree graduates only earn about 20-25% more than non-graduates, making these degrees a lot less valuable in terms of purely financial returns.
The significance of these statistics
Fair enough I guess that medicine yields a decent return, I don’t think there’s much scope to criticise that, and given the innovation within science and engineering, the fact that these degrees result in 100% higher earnings at age 29 isn’t surprising either.
HOWEVER, I have a problem with economics graduates earning so much more. It’s very unlikely that these people are earning so much money because of the social good they are doing. It’s probably more likely that they’re sucking money upwards to the already rich working for corporations and hedge funds, or doing crude econometric (read ‘guess work’) analysis for large institutions like the World Bank. They’re reward is probably making the rich richer, or at least keeping them rich.
Meanwhile down at the bottom, I’m not so sure whether the low return on the caring degrees shows how little we value this qualitative side of life, rather than the fact that degrees in such subjects maybe can’t teach you that much?!? I mean with caring, how much is there that you can’t learn on the job, honestly, or just learn at level 3.
Don’t get me wrong though, I think caring professions are very much underpaid.
As to creative arts… I’m not sure whether these are undervalued, difficult for me to say with any level of objectivity, although if these stats are anything to go by, it shows us that ‘society’ doesn’t value art very highly!
NB – The figures for men are a little different, check out the above study if yer interested!
This is YET MORE evidence of how private schools seem to play a crucial role in the reproduction of class inequality. The chain seems to be:
Go to a private school and get hot-housed
Get into a Russel Group university
Get a better paid job.
It also shows that we need to keep researching exactly how private schools confer advantages on children from rich backgrounds and on just exactly how material and cultural capital combine to get these kids better jobs as adults.
The above stats show all earners, including those who failed their GCSEs, so we’re not really comparing like with like when we compare highest and lowest SES categories, because so many people from the lowest SES category fail to get 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, which means they are much less likely to go to HE, which has a significant negative impact on their earnings at age 29.
With these stats we are going back to a cohort which sat their GCSEs over 10 years ago, so they are already dated, although in fairness, this is unavoidable with a longitudinal analysis such as this.
*Given that only 7% of UK children go to private school, and that most have to pay fees, attendance at private school strongly suggests that this is the top tenth decile of students by ‘social class’ background, so the top half of the top fifth.
The AQA Specification states students need to know about the relationship between globalisation and religion. This post is a few thoughts on whether globalisation has resulted in the decline of religion or not!
Religious motives were a fundamental part of early globalisation
The Spanish conquistadores colonised The Americas in the name of God and were often accompanied by missionaries who tried to convert natives. Many of the towns and cities are named after Christian saints, showing the influence of Christianity.
The Protestant Pilgrim Fathers came to the Americas seeking freedom from religious persecution in Europe.
Many of the first people to contact traditional peoples all over the world were religious missionaries.
However, early globalisation (or conquest) was always about more than just religion and in time, economic and cultural globalisation seem to have become increasingly secular.
More recent globalisation may have undermined religion
Economic globalisation has involved increasing rationalisation and differentiation, both of which seem to undermine the role of religion in societies.
Some aspects of cultural globalisation, such as the growth of consumer culture seem to undermine religious values – with some churches being converted into homes and shops in the West.
One aspect of globalisation is more contact with other religions – when there are many religions, it undermines the authority of those religions which claim to have a monopoly on the truth, such as Christianity and Islam.
However, globalisation doesn’t necessarily undermine religion
Huntington argues that religion has become more important in ‘civilizational identity’ as other sources of identity are undermined. As a result, globalisation, which brings cultures in closer contact, makes religion more important as a source of identity and conflict.
Karen Armstrong argues that the perception that Western Imperialism is undermining religion has led to the increase of religious Fundamentalism.
Monopoly of truth religions might be in decline, but more postmodern religions may be taking their place – such as New Age religions.
Here are four of my favourite historic examples of elites getting away with crime, which broadly supports the Marxist perspective on crime….
I wish I could say there was some kind of points ranking system that leads to the 1-4, but there isn’t – the ranking’s mainly based on a combination of harm done, raw cheek, and the extent to which these ‘criminals that aren’t actually criminals’ annoy me.
In at number four – achieving its position for the sheer cheek of it – Derek Conway (ex) MP – I know there are more recent examples of the expenses scandals, but this one from a few years ago really stands out – in 2007, an inquiry found that Conservative MP Derek Conway had “misused” parliamentary funds by paying an annual £11,773 salary, plus bonuses totalling more than £10,000, to his younger son Freddie while he was a full-time student in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that the arrangement with Freddie was “at the least, an improper use of parliamentary allowances: at worst, it was a serious diversion of public funds.” The Commons committee said it was “astonished” by the lack of evidence of any work that Mr Conway’s second son had done in return for the £45,000 in salary. Mr Conway was suspended from the Commons for ten days and required to repay £13,000 of the money.
In at number three – It’s ‘Sir’ Mark Thatcher – In 2005 he plead guilty over his involvement in an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea. The son of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was fined the equivalent of US$500,000 (£265,000) and given a four-year suspended jail term. Sir Mark denied any knowledge of the plot, and agreed a plea bargain and will now co-operate with investigators. He admitted breaking anti-mercenary legislation in South Africa by agreeing to finance a helicopter. The businessman said he did not initially know the helicopter’s alleged purpose – that it was to be used in the alleged coup attempt, instead believing it was to be used as an air ambulance. But in his plea bargain statement, Sir Mark says he came to realise the helicopter was to be used for mercenary activities before the deal was finalised.
The events surrounding the tragedy at Bhopal, India, provide a good case study of how capitalist enterprises can be supported by the state on a global scale. Union Carbide, an American owned multi-national company, set up a pesticide plant in Bhopal. In 1984, the plant accidentally leaked deadly gas fumes into the surrounding atmosphere. The leakage resulted in over 2,000 deaths and numerous poisonous related illnesses including blindness. Investigations since have revealed that the company set up this particular plant because pollution controls in India were less rigid than in the USA. In Snider’s terms (1993), the Indian State supported such capitalist development in the interests of allowing profits to be made. Marxists would point out that there have been no criminal charges despite the high death and injury toll. They would see the company owners as the true criminals in this scenario. Killed more than 3000 people and caused permanent injury to a further 20 000. The escape of gas was caused by inadequate safety procedures at the plant. No criminal charges have as yet been brought against the plant although it has agreed to pay 470 million dollars in compensation.
At Number one – For sending hundreds of British soldiers to their deaths and being responsible for thousands of innocent Iraqis dying – and well deserving of the top position- is the Megalomaniac psychopath Tony Bliar – the most notorious war criminal in the history of Britain – for decieving the public into backing (well some of them at least) an illegal war in Iraq.
There must be millions of young women in the world who, having graduated with high hopes for a bright future, now find themselves wondering which is more tedious: their job or their relationship: the job only paying them enough for food, bills, rent and debt servicing, and the boyfriend frustrating them because his porn and video game addictions have killed his aspiration to strive for something better.
But fear not young ladies for help is at hand, in the form of self-styled Jet set Babe Anna Bey, who provides advice on how you can ‘bag yourself a billionaire’ via her blog – JetsetBabe.com.
Bey, 32, is originally from Estonia and grew up in a middle-class family environment in Sweden but has successfully navigated the international jet-set and ‘levelled-up’ (her own term) so that she now resides in a flat in Knightsbridge, which is paid for by her banker-boyfriend.
The blog, along with her online ‘finishing school’, provides advice to aspiring ‘JetsetBabes’ on how to find and attract a rich boyfriend – it includes several posts on ‘how to dress’ (‘classy, like Grace Kelly, not Kim Kardashian), ‘demeanour’ (don’t get drunk), where to find rich men (hotel lobbies, not first class in a plane), and even the kind of ‘mind-set’ you need to adopt to ‘level-up’ – as in this post on ‘ditching your average-jo boyfriend’.
JetsetBabes.com – the positives
Bey’s rational for setting up the site was that when she first started out on her quest to find a rich boyfriend, she made a few style and demeanour boo-boos, and wished there had been someone like she is now to show her the ropes, so I guess she’s well-intentioned.
There is also clearly a market for this sort of service…. The closed Facebook group linked to the bog has 3000 members, and I imagine many more readers, but there are only a handful of extremely rich men, and an even smaller handful of decent extremely rich men…. one of the downsides of playing the jet set game is that you might find yourself waking up having been drugged at some point, as has happened to Bey in the past.
Many of the women involved in the JetsetBabe circle find comfort in the fact that the group provides them somewhere where they can discuss their aspirations without being looked down on by members of wider society, somewhere where they won’t be labelled ‘Gold Diggers’ or ‘Sugar babies’.
I think they have a point criticising the labels given to them, when the men who are prepared to pay for them don’t get such negative labels.
Is this liberating for women?
If your definition of freedom is the freedom to shop, dependent on your partner’s wealth for as long as he is your partner, then yes, this is female liberation. The problem is, that’s an extremely limited definition of ‘liberation’…. And it’s a form of liberation that’s totally dependent on the man with the debit card, or bag full of cash.
It also does little to challenge the practice of men treating women like they are sex objects. In fact, if anything it reinforces this…. Among some members of the Facebook group, women seeking to live off their partners financially is justified BECAUSE men treat women like sex objects who can be bought… the logic is ‘if they do it, why can’t we’.
What about equality?
If you believe one of the goals of Feminism is reducing the income and wealth inequalities between men and women, this strategy does absolutely nothing to bring this goal closer. Bey has the explicit belief that women have a hard time in life compared to men, and so men should effectively compensate them by paying for everything, which surely can do nothing other than maintain gender wealth inequalities?
Simply ‘demanding financial compensation’ isn’t exactly empowering yourself financially or putting yourself on an ‘equal’ footing with men’.
In terms of ‘inequalities between women’, there’s the problem of ‘being traded in for a younger model’ and being left to bring up the children on your own. The golden age for bagging a billionaire is tight, and the over 30s in the JSB group are mocked as being ‘used goods’.
As low-consumption tight wad, I’m never going to feel any sense of empathy with women who want a millionaire lifestyle, however, neither do I feel the need to ‘condemn’ women who engage in such a strategy.
Trying to bag a billionaire is, after all, just another individualised coping strategy: an escape from the mundane drudgery and uncertainties of ordinary day to day life in postmodern society, at least until you’re traded in for a younger model.
I’m actually left feeling a sense of pity for these women, not only for the ones who invest time and money in seeking a rich boyfriend but never succeed, but even the ones who do succeed… it just seems like such a shallow life.
However, as a final ‘qualifier’, I’m aware that not all women who do this are shallow, some will use their time gained through financial freedom to do amazing things…. but somehow, I doubt that will include fighting for a ‘deeper’ type of female liberation.
The early 21st Century has seen the rise of various Fundamentalist groups, for example:
The increasing influence of the New Religious Right in the United States
The rise of Zionism in Israel
The rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Steve Bruce: Communal and Individual Fundamentalism
Communal individualism is that usually found in less developed countries and is primarily concerned with defending communities (or nations) against what are perceived to be ‘modernist’ threats such as western materialism, individualism, multiculturalism, and human rights. These are typically seen by ‘communal fundamentalists’ as secularising forces which undermine religion.
Individualist fundamentalism is more likely to be found within developed nations and is mainly associated with the New Christian Right in the United States – it is concerned with maintaining traditional values within the context of a stable liberal democratic nation state.
Five Key Features of Fundamentalist Movements
According to Chapman et al (2015) Fundamentalist movements share the following characteristics:
A literal interpretation of religious texts, which are seen as infallible – they take their ‘moral codes’ straight from their sacred texts. A good fundamentalist is supposed to lead their life in accordance with the original sacred text of the religion, and there is little room for flexibility in this. However, one of the major criticisms of Fundamentalism is that religious texts are often obscure and they have been interpreted at some point by whoever is in power, so there is no such thing as a ‘literal interpretation’.
They regard all areas of social life as sacred – Fundamentalists tend to impose their views on others in a society, and police people’s day to day behaviour closely to make sure that day to day life is being lived in line with their interpretation of the sacred text.
They do not tolerate other religions – they have a monopoly on truth, and when Fundamentalists take power, they tend to purge the symbols of other religions from their area and persecute people of other faiths.
They have conservative beliefs – Fundamentalists tend to support traditional gender roles and are against ‘progressive’ liberalisation, such as women playing a greater role in work and politics and they tend towards tolerance and even celebration of sexuality diversity.
They tend to look at past religious eras with nostalgia, and sometimes want to change society back to how it used to be, before secularisation, when society was more religions
Chapman et al (2015) Sociology AQA A-Level Student Book 2
Thousands of protestors have been engaging in various acts of civil disobedience to protest the British government’s lack of action over climate change.
The week’s protests culminated in up to 6000 people blocking bridges causing significant traffic disruption as well as some of them gluing their hands to the department of the environment’s building.
The protestors say they are doing this because they’ve tried everything else to get the government to take effective action on climate change, but to no avail, and this seems to be something of a last resort!
The people who took part in these protests will almost certainly identify themselves as ‘global citizens’ taking part in a global social movement to being about positive social change. It’s a nice illustration of people engaging in life-Politics (Anthony Giddens’ concept) – it’s highly likely that if you’re committed enough to engage in this level of civil disobedience for the sake of the planet, then you probably live your life in an environmentally friendly way.
These protests and the people who took part in them are most definitely not ‘postmodern‘ – they clearly believe in ‘the truth’ of climate change as outlined by the United Nations, so it’s a nice reminder that not everything about British society is ‘post modern’, this is very much more ‘late modern’ – people coming together to effect what they perceive as positive social change.
It’s also a good example of Giddens’ theory that in the context of globalisation, nation states are too small to solve big problems such as climate change – and this is possibly why so many governments have been ‘dragging their feet’ over taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions…. they can use the fact that ‘they are just one nation among 200’ to not do anything.
Of course, it’s also a straightforward example of positive cultural (and kind of political) globalisation.
If you’re an optimist you could interpret these events through a Functionalist lens – it’s possible that these people are showing us the ‘morality of the future’ – they actually identify explicitly with the Civil Rights activists of the 1960s.
Finally, I think this is an example of secondary green crime…. a crime (the public order offences which led to several arrests) emerging out of a conflict over the environment. it may not be because this concept is not explained very clearly in the A-level text books!
Probably the best example of this is a product called ‘The Mother Load’ which lists 110% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A, a vitamin which, according to UK health organisations can actually be harmful if taken in high doses.
Relevance to A-level sociology
Firstly, Goop is a great example of a postmodern New Age Spirituality. It’s mission is to sell products which promote well-being, and ‘inner peace’. Basically, stressed out women go to Goop to buy nice things and achieve ‘inner peace’.
Gwyneth seems to think there’s nothing wrong with this: I mean why would she: she’s a right woman living in the first world whose pumped her money into a feel good business. I bet her pseudo-spiritual products make her feel pretty good!
However, on balance I think this is a good example of just how the The New Age isn’t really religious at all – it’s just wealthy people buying goods and services to make themselves feel better – it’s basically consumerism!
The material above is a good example of how science and religion can come into direct conflict.
Berger (1990) argues that religion once provided a ‘shared universe of meaning’ and was used by people to make sense of the world, and to give their lives focus and order. He refers to religion as a ‘sacred canopy’, stretching over society and helping people to cope with the uncertainties of life.
Other sociologists disagree about the role that religion fulfils in society today. Marxists, for example, argue that religion acts to dull the pain of oppression experienced by the working class under capitalism and to conceal domination by the bourgeoisie. Some feminists argue that religion oppresses or disadvantages women.
Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that religion no longer acts as a ‘shared universe of meaning’ for people today.
This is a relatively straightforward question if you take it as a ‘consensus versus conflict’ essay.
You could also throw in elements of postmodernisation and secularization.
And counter criticize (kind of) from a globalist perspective.
Supporting evidence from Functionalism
Durkheim’s argued that religion reinforces the ‘collective conscience’ by representing the social order.
Malinowski argued religious rituals helped the Trobriand Islanders deal with risky situations with uncertain outcomes (such as deep sea rather than lagoon fishing)
He also argued religious rituals help people cope with social change, such as when people die.
Parsons seems to be the main man who agreed with Berger: the main function of religion was to help people make sense of contradictory events.
In one sense you could say that religion forms the basis of the law and this provides a shared universe of meaning.
Other supporting evidence drawn from across the syllabus
It’s unlikely that anything other than religion can provide a ‘sacred canopy’ (Science doesn’t provide all of the answers to ‘big questions’ for example)
Goddess religions could be interpreted as forming a ‘sacred canopy’ – one ‘divine reality, but many paths to it’.
This seems to be more the case for older rather than younger people (older people are more religious)
Some newer religions might be providing a more ‘general’ sacred canopy… for example ecumenicalism and The New Age movement.
Giddens argues that religion today provides a vital role in answering big questions and providing moral purpose
Criticize the idea of a ‘shared universe of meaning’ because religion works in the interest of elite groups.
It’s the meaning of the elite that is taught through religion – such as the idea that inequality is God’s will and cannot be changed.
Neo-Marxism and Feminist resistance against elitist and patriarchal religions are evidence against this.
Postmodernisation/ Increasing diversity of religion means there is no sacred canopy
The increasing diversity of religion with postmodernity suggests there is no ‘shared universe of meaning’.
Religion has become more about ‘me’, less about aligning with society, e.g. the New Age Movement.
Religion has become more about entertainment, thus is arguably no ‘deeper’ than Disneyland.
Secularisation/ growth of science means there is no sacred canopy
Secularization is further evidence against – fewer people believe in God.
It’s more likely that belief in science, rather than religion provides a ‘sacred canopy’.
Examples of religious conflicts
World Rejecting NRMs
Thoughts on a conclusion
Pick up on the different ‘functions’ in the item to write a differentiated conclusion… maybe religion doesn’t provide a ‘shared universe of meaning’ any more, but maybe it’s still used selectively by people some of the time to deal with uncertainties.
A level sociology text books seem to focus on four theorists of postmodernity and religion: Giddens, Bauman, Heelas and Lyon. This post is a bare bones summary of what they say about how religion changes to ‘fit’ postmodernity.
Anthony Giddens: High Modernity and Religion
Zygmunt Bauman: Postmodernity and Religion
David Lyon: Jesus in Disneyland
Paul Heelas: Postmodernity and The New Age Movement
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