From: Will Keenan
Social Conflict Perspective
Discussion Themes: Conflict: Positive & Negative Aspects
Is society inherently, inevitably and universally ‘conflictual’?
1. When is conflict ever productive of social benefits?
2. Identify areas of social conflict that have wider ethical significance.
Articles by: David F. Walsh Structure/Agency, pp. 8-33;
Fran Tonkiss continuity/Change, pp. 34-48; and
Don Slater Needs/Wants, pp. 315-28.
in Jenks, Chris (ed.) (1998) Core Sociological Dichotomies (Sage),
Look up the SUBJECT INDEX of Jenks (ed.) and at least 1 Introductory Textbook/Encyclopaedia/Dictionary in Sociology
and make notes under the following themes: basic Marxism; social conflict; social change; interests; power
The Conflict Perspective: Key Ideas:
In this view ‘Society’ is regarded as a scene of fundamental conflict between opposing interest groups.
These conflicting interests may be based on: social class; race and ethnicity; gender and sexual orientation; disability; age, religion, cultural taste etc.
There is no consensus other than a manipulated and manufactured one serving the dominant social groups’ interests.
Society has no set purpose and no overarching goals outside these struggles for dominance and privilege.
Key Names: Marx, Althusser, Gramsci, Poulantzas, Milliband, Stuart Hall
Debates: KEY CONCEPTS
FUNCTIONALISM vs MARXISM
ORDER vs CONFLICT
STABILITY vs CHANGE
NEEDS vs INTERESTS
CONSENSUS vs DISSENSUS
INTEGRATION vs DIVISION
HARMONY vs STRUGGLE
Key Names: Marx(ists), Althusser, Gramsci, Poulantzas, Stuart Hall etc
Frankfurt School: Marcuse, Adorno, Habermas, Critical Theorists
Radical Feminism from Simone de Bouvoir to bell hooks
Core elements of the ‘Marxian’ CONFLICT PERSPECTIVE
Social class based on economic ownership is the key to power in society
Class conflict is the source of all social power, social change and progress
A ruling class and its subject classes are engaged in exploitative social relationships
Class consciousness and False Consciousness characterize social life
Alienation is the condition of exploited classes under capitalism
Economic base (or infrastructure) and Political / Ideological superstructure
Some Further Ideas
Althusser employs the following key ideas:
"Ideological State Apparatuses" (ISAs)
- mass media; education?
"Repressive State Apparatuses" (RSAs) - - Hegemony
Gramsci refers to ‘organic intellectuals’
Stuart Hall: the importance of culture
Unscientific (the "Faith of Marxism" - Popper)
Conspiracy theory (especially aimed at Instrumental Marxists)
Communism does not appear imminent
Left Functionalism (Jock Young: argues most "Marxism" is little more than form of Functionalism that replaces interests of "society" with "ruling class").
Subjective beliefs and interpretations of individuals ignored (Weber)
Forms of (non-economic) conflict (gender, ethnic group) ignored in favour of economic conflicts
Popper, Weber, Dahrendorf,
New Left ‘Idealism’
New Right Theorists
Conflict and Change …
Order/Conflict Practical Activity
Break into groups of 4 or 5 persons
Identify a Spokesperson for Feedback
Select ANY 2 THEMES on the handout list
See if you can briefly identify the ORDER and the CONFLICT potential of your 2 themes.
It would be great if groups chose at least 1 theme that was different from that of other groups
Consider any TWO of the following themes and identify aspects of social order and social conflict:
Task 2:- The ‘Peace in the Feud’ Principle
IDENTIFY ‘DUAL’ ASPECTS of...