Sociology in the News (3)

1. Yet more evidence of corporate criminals

From the USA here’s some further evidence of corporate criminality Federal regulators and states are finding fast food companies like Chipotle, McDonald’s and Papa John culpable of wage theft, worker intimidation and discrimination. A practice they say is “pervasive” in the industry.

Useful supporting evidence for the continued relevance of the Marxist perspective on crime – especially the ideas that all classes commit crime and that the harms caused by elite crime are extremely costly to society.

2. The continued relevance of structuralist Marxism

This article from The Guardian outlines how the decline of social housing and the increase in the private rental sector means that the government now pays almost £10 billion a year to private landlords through housing benefit, a figure which is twice as much as 10 years ago. It also cites research that suggests which outlines the benefits of social housing for the poor rather than leaving it to the private sector.

  • social housing would save the tax payer £1- 1.5 billion a year
  • The money would be circulated through local councils, rather than going to the rich, would further empower the poor.
  • There is generally more security of tenure in social housing than in private accommodation.

The author notes that ‘the move to private renting as social housing has been depleted is, and always has been, ideologically driven – social housing aims to meet an essential need while reinvesting the rent paid, whereas private renting merely enriches the lives of a small number of people’.

For A level sociology students this is a nice illustration of the continued relevance of aspects of Marxist theory (crudely applied) – The cheapest option for dealing with the problem of ‘housing the poor’ would be for the government to build and maintain ‘social housing’ – but instead the the state works outs the interests of the Bourgeois ahead of the general public by letting the council housing stock deplete and then paying more of our tax-payers money to these wealthy landlords, who provide housing for a higher fee than public bodies would be able to.

3. Latest UK income inequality statistics from The Guardian 

Full of nice summaries of income inequalities such as –

  • The top 10% of earners in Britain have salaries which are equal to more than the bottom 40% of earners combined
  • The median income for a single adult in the fifth decile is £17,600, but for a couple with two children it is £44,200

Personally, I shove this information in week one of the first year of sociology – Part of the intro lesson on social class, wealth and income inequality.

It’s lesson 2 or 3, can’t remember which, useful to dispel a few myths about average wealth, especially when you teach in Surrey (which is just about the most loathsome county in England).

 

Sociology in the News (1)

Application of sociological theories and concepts to contemporary news events*

Jamie Oliver’s in shock over the government’s child obesity strategy – childhood obesity, caused by lack of exercise and eating too much sugary food is an increasing problem in Britain, but apparently the government isn’t going to put bans on companies advertising junk food to children.

Supporting evidence for the continued relevance of Sue Palmer’s Toxic Childhood, and you also could interpret this as supporting evidence for the broad Marxist idea that fast-food company profits trump child well-being, or evidence of the impotence of governments to implement social policy in a post-modern age.

*A new theme I’m working on – to try and bash out a weekly-ish post applying some sociology to at least three news items once a week.

NB – I got the idea for a weekly round up from ‘The Week‘ which selects out the highlights of the previous weeks’ news with commentary – IMO it’s the most efficient way to keep up with news events because you miss out on all of the hype, anticipation, repetition and just non-news that you get with daily broadcasts.