Sociology: Social class in Child labour in tobacco fields

Essay by alisonlmcCollege, Undergraduate July 2014

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Sociology Individual Essay: Social Class

My essay revolves around an article showcasing US tobacco companies employing child labourers to work in tobacco fields where they are exposed to health dangers posed by nicotine and unacceptable working conditions. In the article, child labourers are mostly Hispanic immigrants and vary from ages 7-17. (Young, 2014). Under U.S. labour law, children under the age of 14 is prohibited from working. (Young, 2014). However, agriculture tobacco farming is exempted, thereby allowing children to work legally for unlimited hours.

Social stratification is a structured ranking of categories of people that perpetuates unequal economic rewards and power in society (Henslin, 2013).

In the United States, some groups of people hold higher power, status and wealth than others. A person's social ranking can be ascribed or achieved. In this case, majority of the child labourers are Hispanic immigrants, coming from families who face poverty and hold little education.

(Young, 2014). This is an ascribed social position of children, which is assigned to someone without regard for the person's unique talents or characteristics (Henslin, 2013).

I will be discussing social class, one of the many systems under social stratification. Social class is determined primarily by one's economic identity, education and prestige level (Henslin, 2013). The conflict theory showcases how social stratification benefits some at the expense of others. In my article, employers gain revenue by employing children who work 10-14 hours shifts in extreme heat with no overtime pay, safety training or protective gear (Young, 2014). According to a 2005 study by Dr Robert McKnight, of the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky, workers can absorb 54 milligrams worth of dissolved nicotine in a day, equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes.

The Karl Marx theory is based on two classes, the bourgeoisie and proletariat. In the...