Social Conflict Theory

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 613
  • Published : March 19, 2011
Open Document
Text Preview
The social conflict theory is based on society being a complex system characterized by inequality and conflict that generate social change. Social conflict can be seen all over the world we live in: in sports, politics and normal social engagements and society at large. Karl Marx studied social conflict His entire life and wanted to reduce social inequality. The social conflict theory can be described as favoritism; Society tends to show favoritism to the prestigious members of that particular society. Social inequality is shown throughout the world from situations of race, ethnicity, gender, and age. These factors may dictate wealth, schooling, power, and prestige. The social conflict paradigm views the patterns that benefit some people more than it would others, due to their social standings.

Karl Marx was a sociologist who embraced the social conflict theory. Marx made his main goal not just to understand society but to reduce social inequality. Karl Marx devoted his life to explaining a contradiction in society which was "How in a society so rich, so many could be poor." Marx pointed out here that: If America is supposed to be a rich country and a free country where the streets are paved with gold and opportunity is knocking around every corner, then why is it that there are so many poor people in America? The answer is social conflict. America does not provide the same opportunities to people from a poor family as they do with people who come from a rich and prestigious family.

The social Conflict theory as pointed out by Karl Marx is based upon the view that the fundamental causes of crime are the social and economic forces operating within society. The criminal justice system and criminal law are thought to be operating on behalf of rich and powerful social elites, with resulting policies aimed at controlling the poor. The criminal justice establishment aims at imposing standards of morality and good behavior created by the powerful on the whole of society.

Focus is on separating the powerful from have nots who would steal from others and protecting themselves from physical attacks. In the process the legal rights of poor folks might be ignored. The middle class are also co-opted; they side with the elites rather than the poor, thinking they might themselves rise to the top by supporting the status quo. In the next page we shall explore the concepts and views of Karl Marx on Social Conflict Theory.

Social Conflict Theory
This is a Marxist-based social theory which argues that individuals and groups (social classes) within society have differing amounts of material and non-material resources (the wealthy vs. the poor) and that the more powerful groups use their power in order to exploit groups with less power. According to Karl Marx in all stratified societies there are two major social groups: a ruling class and a subject class. The ruling class derives its power from its ownership and control of the forces of production. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class. As a result there is a basic conflict of interest between the two classes. The various institutions of society such as the legal and political system are instruments of ruling class domination and serve to further its interests. Marx believed that western society developed through four main epochs-primitive communism, ancient society, feudal society and capitalist society. Primitive communism is represented by the societies of pre-history and provides the only example of the classless society. From then all societies are divided into two major classes - master and slaves in ancient society, lords and serfs in feudal society and capitalist and wage laborers in capitalist society. Weber sees class in economic terms. He argues that classes develop in market economies in which individuals compete for economic gain. He defines a class as a group of individuals who share a similar position in market economy and by...
tracking img