Life chances


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    Post by msistarted0 on Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:17 am

    Life chances (Lebenschancen in German) are the opportunities each individual has to improve his or her quality of life. The concept was introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. It is a probabilistic concept, describing how likely it is, given certain factors, that an individual's life will turn out a certain way.[1] Life chances are positively correlated with one's social situation.[2]

    The opportunities mean the extent to which one has access to resources, both tangible ones such as food, clothing and shelter, and intangible ones such as education and health care.[3] Quality of life comprises the individual's ability to procure goods, have a career and obtain inner satisfaction; in other words, the ability to satisfy one's needs.[4]

    Weberian life chances can be seen as an expansion on some of Karl Marx's ideas. Both Weber and Marx agreed that economic factors were important in determining one's future, but Weber's concepts of life chances are more complex; inspired by, but different from Marx's views on social stratification and social class. Where for Marx the class status were the most important factor, and he correlated life chances with material wealth, Weber introduced other factors, such as social mobility and social equality.[5][6] Other factors include those related to one socioeconomic status, such as gender, race, race and ethnicity.[7]

    While some of those factors, like age, race or gender, are random[7], Weber stressed the link between life chances and the non-random elements of the three-component theory of stratification - how social class, social status and political affiliation impact each individual's life. In other words, individuals in certain groups have in common a specific causal component of their life chances: they are in similar situation, which tends to imply a similar outcome to their actions. Weber notes the importance of economic factors.[8][9] how the power of those with property, compared to those without property, gives the former great advantages over the latter.[9] Weber also noted that life chances are to certain extent subjective: what an individual thinks of one's life chances will affect their actions, therefore if one feels that one can become or is a respected and valued member of society, then it is likely to become a reality and results in one being more successful and respected than somebody without this conviction.[9]

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