⒈ Modern Conflict Theory
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Competition exists as a result of the scarcity of resources, including material resources like money, property, commodities, and more. Whenever there is an imbalance, a shift of power, or something that disrupts the fragile equilibrium between different social classes, a crisis can emerge. Larger entities such as governments or companies seek to prevent or manage conflict by reallocating resources and distributing goods.
Progressive taxes, minimum wages, social assistance — in conflict theory, these are all done not for the welfare of the people, but rather to reduce conflict. Beyond material resources, individuals and groups within a society also compete for intangible resources as well. These can include leisure time, dominance, social status, sexual partners, and many other factors. Conflict theorists assume that competition is the default, rather than cooperation.
The idea is that change in a power dynamic between groups does not happen as the result of adaptation. Rather, it comes about as the effect of conflict between these groups. In this way, changes to a power dynamic are often abrupt and large in scale, rather than gradual and evolutionary. An important assumption of conflict theory is that human relationships and social structures all experience inequalities of power. In this way, some individuals and groups inherently develop more power and reward than others. Following this, those individuals and groups that benefit from a particular structure of society tend to work to maintain those structures so as to retain and enhance their power. Conflict theorists tend to see war as either a unifier or as a cleanser of societies.
In conflict theory, war is the result of a cumulative and growing conflict between individuals and groups and between whole societies. In the context of war, a society may become unified in some ways, but conflict still remains between multiple societies. On the other hand, war may also result in the wholesale end of society. In essence, conflict theory is a simple theory: there is always competition between groups within society over limited resources. But the more you look into it, the more opaque and complicated things become. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, critical theorists who were part of The Frankfurt School , focused their work on how the rise of mass culture—mass-produced art, music, and media—contributed to the maintenance of cultural hegemony.
More recently, C. Many others have drawn on conflict theory to develop other theories within the social sciences, including feminist theory, critical race theory, postmodern and postcolonial theory, queer theory, post-structural theory, and theories of globalization and world systems. So, while initially conflict theory described class conflicts specifically, it has lent itself over the years to studies of how other kinds of conflicts, like those premised on race, gender, sexuality, religion, culture, and nationality, among others, are a part of contemporary social structures, and how they affect our lives.
Marx believed that with rising inequality, social tension also rises. That much seems to be right, as a mountain of studies show that social and economic inequality are very dangerous to society. Join the ZME newsletter for amazing science news, features, and exclusive scoops. More than 40, subscribers can't be wrong. But many things cannot be explained through this lens alone, and there is another, equally convincing and opposite theory: functionalism. Whereas conflict theory views all aspects of life as a competition, functionalism understands society as a system striving for equilibrium.
To say that conflict theory is right or wrong would simply not be correct. Sociologists develop theories to help explain social phenomena. These theories often work at multiple levels, from the macro to the micro — in this case, from describing how interpersonal relationships work, to describing how society works. 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 virtue of that fact receive similar economic rewards.
Thus a person's class situation is basically his market situation. Those who share a similar class situation also share similar life chances. Their economic position will directly affect their chances of obtaining the things defined as desirable in their society. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help to improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages.
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