Through the Eyes of a Conflict Theorist

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In the film Roger and Me, Michael Moore tells the story of the exploitation of the numerous workers in his hometown, Flint, Michigan. He follows the numerous employees of General Motors who have lost their jobs and consequently, tries to contact the power steering CEO of General Motors, Roger Smith. Smith closed down a large amount of the auto plants in Flint causing thousands of workers to be unemployed. Moore makes an attempt at demonstrating to Smith the harsh reality of the demise of Moore’s childhood surroundings caused by Smith’s his actions towards the people of Flint. The structure of society that results from Smith’s profitable actions and his refusal to accept this harsh reality proves his lack of empathy for those beneath him economically. Smith’s decisions to aid his company’s financial status exhibit the economic inequalities present in society. These inequalities are closely represented by the ideas portrayed by conflict theorists. Developed by Karl Marx, the conflict theory is defined as an idea which contends that various persons and groups form the number of differing levels of social classes within society. These societies have a diverse quantity of income, assets, and wealth, mainly weighing more towards the higher class and against the lower class. These more powerful, higher social groups, such the General Motors Company in the film, utilize their authority and control in order to take advantage of and abuse those groups with lower influences and lower dominance. At the end of the documentary, Moore closes with the statement, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” This statement correctly parallels with Marx’s broad view of society and more specifically with the society of Flint at the time of the occurrence of the downsizing of jobs by General Motors and Smith. As conflict theorists would argue, Smith advantageously misuses his abilities as CEO of the large company to evacuate the tremendous amounts of factory workers...
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