The Conflict Perspective Views Society Less as a Cohesive System and More as an Arena of Conflict and Power Struggles. Compare and Contrast the Main Tenets of the Functionalist and Conflict Perspectives.

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx Pages: 4 (1319 words) Published: December 1, 2010

TOPIC:The conflict perspective views society less as a cohesive system and more as an arena of conflict and power struggles. Compare and contrast the main tenets of the functionalist and conflict perspectives. ANSWER:

Functionalists view society as a system of Social structures or subsystems working interdependently. In order for society to function, all parts of the whole must have a general consensus. Similarly, conflict theorists operate on the premise that society functions in a way that each individual contributes to the whole, however, conflict arises as participants within society struggle to maximize their benefits. In other words, the sub-systems are perpetuated in order to benefit only those that hold power.

Functionalist Emile Durkhein (1858-1917) aimed to establish how the various parts of society contributed to the maintenance of society as a whole. Durkheim also focused on how various features of social structure function to maintain social order and equilibrium. In contrast to Durkheim’s views, conflict theorist Karl Marx (1818-1883) saw the society as being in a state of conflict which is as a result of social inequalities. Marx based his work on inequality, focusing on inequality under capitalism. Marx argued that the production of goods and services within society is set up so that great benefits are produced for a minority dominant group, the Bourgeoisie, at the expense of an exploited and oppressed majority group, the Proletariat. Durkheim believed that the division of labour was a step toward new forms of Social Solidarity, but Marx felt this separation contributed to alienation.


Emile Durkheim firmly believed that societies were social systems which were in fact moral entities. He argued that Socialization, or association with others within society was the basis by which collective consciousness or common moral values are formed. The “Collective Conscience”...
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