April 17, 2014
The conflict theory is one of three major ideologies of sociology that explains social life. It conveys life as a constant struggle between groups for power and scarce resources. This rationale was established by Karl Marx who observed small powerful groups exploiting the people in social classes below them. Marx and other conflict theorists believe that we need inequality to survive, and struggle among social classes is normal. The conflict theory best explains social life than other theories for many reasons. One being it explains the inequalities of money, gender, class, and age in the most accurate way. These types of characteristics obviously create advantages and disadvantages for people. They inadvertently establish every person into a group that either benefits, or is handicapped, by their place in the social hierarchy. All over the world, disparities between the rich and poor, even in the wealthiest of nations is rising sharply. Fewer people are becoming increasingly "successful and wealthy while a disproportionately larger population is also becoming even poorer. There are many issues involved when looking at poverty. It is not simply enough (or correct) to say that the poor are poor due to their own (or their government's) bad governance and management. In fact, you could quite easily conclude that the poor are poor because the rich are rich and have the power to enforce trade agreements, which favor their interests more than the proper nations. This is a very serious problem in our society today. Poverty is everywhere and it needs to reduce so that our economy will be more stabilized and balanced that it has been. Conflict theory also justifies social change. It illustrates society as unstable and enharmonic with unpredictable changes. Marx predicted that ruling groups including capitalism will ultimately fall to their own exploitation of lower classes. This is proven by revolutions, fallen governments, war, and other dramatic shifts of power. “The conflict outlook accounts for the force for action held by the high elite classes and their effect on politics. This so called power elite control government through inner ties with political leaders and money” (Mercer). With many already being members of government they control what will be the standards for the classes below them and decide on their own gains in politics. The wealthiest people in America that control major corporations by no mishap are selected as the Presidents ambassadors and cabinet members. They do whatever is possible to get their share of profits and maintain their position in society. “Conflict theory also suggests that change in the society is inevitable which could be beneficial or destructive. It views conflict as desirable in a society because it allows social change. This theory believes that it is not cooperation as the key in maintaining social order, rather it is the force. Another assumption of the theory is that conflict is universal and inequality is seen everywhere” (Collett). Conflict theory depicts religion for what it is, an escape and sense of purpose for people. A quote from Karl Marx shows the conflict theorists perspective on religion, Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world... It is the opium of the people. Marx who was an atheist believed that God was an impossibility. Religion under the conflict ideal is a tool that gives happiness, and takes away suffering from lower classes. This in turn makes them less likely to revolt to the oppressing higher classes. The religious elite decide on the masses purpose in life, and wellbeing. An example would be the religious applications in slavery, where slaves were taught that their agony would be eliminated when they died and went to heaven. Religion is also a reflection of present social inequalities in society. “When men dominated...
References: Colakkadioglu, O., & Gucray, S. (2012). The Effect of Conflict Theory Based Decision-Making Skill Training Psycho-Educational Group Experience on Decision Making Styles of Adolescents. Educational Sciences: Theory And Practice, 12(2), 669-676.
Collett, J. L., Kelly, S., & Sobolewski, C. (2010). Using "Remember the Titans" to Teach Theories of Conflict Reduction. Teaching Sociology, 38(3), 258-266.
Mercer, J. (2010). Exploring the Processes of Self-Development Encountered by Adult Returners to Higher Education: A Lifespan Psychology Perspective. Psychology Teaching Review, 16(1), 24-36.
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