What is wrong with inheritable inequality?

Published 15 Mar 2017

As we all know people have always been unequal. It was determined by numerous factors even many centuries ago, and nowadays the amount of those factors has increased greatly. In the dawn of the humankind history people had little property, so that the social status was determined by other marks, like authority and skillfulness. There were little things that marked the difference in people’s social statuses, like better pieces of food, better place near the fire and more attention from the side of the representatives of the opposite sex. Nowadays it’s much easier to tell the difference between the representatives of people who possess different social status. They differ a lot in their language, national origin, clothing, gender and interests.

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In the aboriginal societies social status was a matter of personal achievement. The only stable characteristic in those times was gender. Every man could become the Best Hunter, if he tried hard, and every woman could claim the status of the Wisest in case she was clever enough for it. The situation nowadays is much different from the one that existed centuries ago. People are born with the ascribed social status, which depends on the social status of his or her parents. The society has its expectations of the members of all the social classes. In general they are expected to get the education, hold a position and have earnings which are more or less common for the members of his or her class. If he or she fails to perform it, the society labels them lame ducks and under dogs. And, vice versa, if the member of the defined social group performs better than he was expected to perform, people call him a successful person.

We can note that the evaluations we give to the social successes or failures of the surrounding people are of great dependence from the social status of the person we evaluate. For example, if we get to know that Mary, the child of the working poor, entered Harvard University, we would be impressed. But if Mary’s parents are university professors and lecturers we would take her success for granted.

The Egalitarian society, a society where all the social statuses are achieved, gave its members a strong motivation for development and perfection of their skills and talents, which increased the overall level of proficiency in the given society. The members of the Egalitarian society had valid stimulus for the personal and professional development, as they knew that they were able to change their social status completely.

Nowadays people have less motivation for trying to achieve perfection in their agency. As we can note, in our times it’s much harder to change your social status than it was couple of dozens of centuries before. The society is much more rigid today due to its size and strong social stratification.

People, who are in power in our society (Stratified Society), are aware, that the resources on the Earth are scarce, so that the other people’s access to the goods and services should be limited. They control the distribution of the goods among the members of the society, ensuring that there always remain resources for the ruling top. The institute of crown is the bright example of the inheritable inequality. When people elect a leader for themselves, they are aware that he or she is the same human being as they are. As the fulfillment of the duties of the leader requires time and effort, he or she cannot perform the usual job needed for survival, so that others satisfy the leader with everything needed.

Time passes, and the surroundings understand the importance of the role of the leader. They feel their life has become much easier with the appearance of the organizer of their activities. Then they begin to associate the personality of the leader with the functions he performs. At this stage leader seems to be much cleverer and better from the “usual people”. The leaders descendants are often thought to inherit this personal oneness.

As the ruling elite in the stratified society does it’s best to keep its positions and transmit them to their children, people in those societies are evaluated not on the basis of their usefulness to the whole society, but according to the specialized use the representatives of the ruling elite can make of the specific person. Thus valuable specialists whose labor isn’t demanded by the ruling class are often unable of getting a job, they don’t have the rights and privileges that those who are of more use to the reach and powerful have.

Gender is also one of the factors of inheritable inequality. O course women are incapable of performing some hard physical labor, and man cannot perform some of the females work, but, in general, this is a sphere where numerous unwarrantable stereotypes exist. It often happens that a women who’s a great specialist, educated person with great work experience, applies for a job, and her application is either rejected in favor of a male applicant, or she is proposed a salary much lower than her male colleagues have. This leads to the psychological problems for the given women and the irrational use of human resources for the country in general.

From the dawn of the humankind history people were unequal. It’s normal, as some people are stronger, cleverer and nicer than the others, and if they work a lot to get a higher social status it’s their right. But the change in social status should be reached by the person itself. The tradition of inheriting high social positions, especially those dealing with power and control is dangerous, as power can fall into the hands of a rude, hostile or even silly person. Social statuses should be distributed according to the personal achievements of the given person.


  • Van Der Elst, Dirk. The Shaft, and How you Got It. Culture As Given, Culture As Choice. Waveland Press, 2003
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