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The theory of "Life Chances" was originally articulated by a Social Scientist named Weber (pronounced "Vaber").

The simple answer is that there are many things that contribute to a person's chances for success in life. A list of a few examples follows:

Were they raised in a healthy home?

Was their family economically stable?

Did they go to good schools as children?

Were they given access to reasonable health care?

Was their environment stable?

Were they born with a significant handicap?

Let's look at two situations with just these few questions in place.

A young man is born in Orange County, California. He has two parents that love each other very much and who rarely fight. They communicate effectively, and nurture their children without over-protecting them. They encourage their children productively and take an active hand in their growing process which guides them towards higher achievement and higher goals.

The young man goes to the best schools in the country, and has access to cutting edge medical services so that when he gets injured, the lingering results of an injury are not as pronounced. Further, because he has better medical care accessible, he is informed of nutrition and healthy habits from an early age, and thus grows up less susceptible to medical issues overall. Even if our young man is diagnosed with severe diabetes, it can be treated and handled effectively. He has access to the medications and nutrition expertise it takes to make this almost a non-issue.

The young man lives in a very stable environment, without threats to life, constant relocation, and plenty of access to food.

This in turn allows him to focus more fully on his education, which his parents help and encourage him with.

As he grows up, he is likely to encounter and bond with many people who will also provide many opportunities for career choices down the road, allowing him to then provide a relatively high quality of life for his spouse and children.

Now contrast that with this hypothetical example:

A young woman is born in Sudan, which is a very misogynistic region that naturally considers women to be lower on the scale of importance than men, and often lower on the scale than property - including livestock.

In Sudan, many houses have no sewer system, causing many diseases and sicknesses. Many also have no electricity for lighting, which generally makes doing anything more difficult including reading, not that the young woman is allowed to read a book anyway. It's against the law there.

They also have no heat source, so a stable temperature in the house is absent. This lends itself to sickness and the spread of disease as well.

The walls of the house are not constructed to meet any kind of building code, and thus it's fragile. When an earthquake hits, the house crumbles and falls on top of the people that live there. The roof leaks, the house can't retain heat, and provides little relief from scorching summer sun.

Sudan is a poverty stricken region, and not many there are economically stable. Food is scarce and expensive, as are most other things. Our young woman doesn't know if she'll be able to eat every day that month or not, and her clothing and other resources are not of the quality that most people find sufficient. If the family doesn't make enough money this month, they may have to move to an entirely different area, starting over from scratch.

Sudan's school system - if it even has one - is among the lowest in the world. This doesn't matter much to our young lady though, as she's not allowed to attend school anyway. Even if she could, she'd be getting one of the worst educations in the world.

Our young lady's family can't afford food, much less health care. If the young lady gets sick from anything other than a cold, her life is in extreme danger. This is true even of minor afflictions such as Allergies that our young man in Orange County quickly gets treatment for.

Sudan is a war-torn region, with tanks, soldiers, and machine gun fire present every day. It's entirely possible that this young woman will get shot in a cross-fire among competing military soldiers that day on her way to market.

To make matters worse, this young lady was born with diabetes, though only a very minor case. It's barely noticeable. This is a completely minor issue in Orange County, but one that is very lethal in the Sudan where there is no treatment and no education about the illness.

Is she likely to grow up meeting and bonding with the head of a fortune 500 company? Will she be able to go to college, get a wonderful job, and provide a high quality of life for her children?

Probably not.

She'll probably be lucky to see her 16th birthday.

But for our young man in Orange County, not only is he likely to see his 16th birthday, but he's likely to see his 76th.

In these two circumstances, the Life Chances for a young man in Orange County are significantly greater than those of a Sudanese young woman. This remains true even if the young man is of average intelligence, average physique, and average ambition.

The young woman may be incredibly gifted intellectually, but she'll never discover that because the opportunity for her to engage in intellectual endeavors is not there.

She may be in very good health aside from the diabetes, and might even have the talent to be a world class Basketball player, but because of the diabetes which is easily treatable in Orange County, she's going to be sickly most of her life, if it doesn't outright kill her before she's old enough to get married. She may also be better at managing her career and businesses than the young man, but it doesn't matter, because she's not allowed to engage in that activity in Sudan. Even if it was allowed, the chances of her side-stepping enough landmines to get to an age where she could start her own business is about zero.

Even if she did manage to survive that long, and it was legal to start her own business, and she was smart enough to run one very well - it still wouldn't matter because she doesn't have enough money to start a business.

The Life Chances of success for even a sub-par candidate in Orange County, California are significantly greater than the life chances for even the most gifted person if they're in Sudan.

The chances that the young man will meet with success in his life are almost guaranteed despite that he's otherwise a person of average talent or intellect at best.

The chances of the young woman finding success in Sudan are all but non-existent, even though she's amazingly smart, wonderfully talented, and incredibly driven.

The phrase "Life Chances" refers to this phenomena wherein a superior candidate is all but doomed to fail, while an inferior candidate is almost guaranteed to succeed, based simply on the events and environment that surround their life.

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Q: What is a life chance in sociology?
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