Social Conflict Theory in Sociology: Karl Marx & Contributors

Social Conflict theory looks at society as a contest for limited resources. This aspect may be a macro-level strategy most recognized with the works of German philosopher and sociologist Marx (1818–1883), who saw civilization as being made from somebody in several social classes who must battle for social, substance, and political sources like food and home, job, schooling, and leisure. Social institutions like government, culture, and spirituality reflect this competition in their inherent inequalities and help maintain the unequal social organization.

Some individuals and organizations can obtain and keep more resources than others, and these winners use their power and influence to take care of social institutions. Several theorists suggested variations on this basic theme. Polish and Austrian sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz developed on Marx’s conceptions by asserting that war and victory are the concepts of civilizations. He concluded that cultural and ethnic conflicts led to cases being recognized and defined by a powerful organization that had power over other groups (Irving 2007).

Social Conflict Theory Sociology
Social Conflict Theory Sociology

Conflict Theory Key Takeaways

  • Conflict theory centers on the competition between groups within society over limited resources.
  • Conflict theory views social and economic institutions as tools of the struggle between groups or classes, wont to maintain inequality and therefore, the dominance of the upper level.
  • Marxist conflict theory sees society as divided along the lines of economic class between the proletarian labour and consequently, the bourgeois upper class.
  • Later versions of conflict theory check out other dimensions of conflict among capitalist factions and between various social, religious, and differing types of groups.

Karl Marx’s Conflict Theory

Conflict theory originated within the work of Marx. He focused on the causes and consequences of sophistication conflict between the bourgeoisie (the owners of the means of production and therefore, therefore, the capitalists) and the proletariat (the labor and the poor). That specializes in the economic, social, and political implications of the increase of capitalism in Europe, Marx theorized that this technique premised on the existence of a substantial minority class (the bourgeoisie) and an annoyed majority class (the proletariat), created class conflict because the interests of the 2 were at odds, and resources were unjustly distributed among them.

Within this system, an unequal social order was maintained through ideological coercion which created consensus–and acceptance of the preferences, expectations, and shapes as determined by the bourgeoisie. Marx theorized that the work of manufacturing agreement was wiped out the superstructure of society, which consists of social institutions, political structures, and culture, and what it made consensus for was the center, the economic relations of production.

Marx reasoned that because the socio-economic conditions worsened for the proletariat, they might develop a category consciousness that exposed their exploitation at the hands of the wealthy capitalist class of the bourgeoisie. Then they might revolt, demanding changes to smooth the conflict. Consistent with Marx, if the changes made to appease conflict maintained a capitalist rule, then the circle of conflict would repeat. However, if the changes made created a replacement system, like socialism, then peace and stability would be achieved.

Evolution of Conflict Theory

Many social theorists have discovered Marx’s conflict theory to bolster it, grow it, and refine it over the years. Explaining why Marx’s theory of revolution didn’t manifest in his life, Italian scholar and activist Antonio Gramsci claimed that the facility of ideology was more vital than Marx had realized which more work needed to be done to beat cultural hegemony or rule through sense. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, critical theorists who were a part of The Frankfurt School, focused their work on how the increase of mass culture–mass-produced art, music, and media–contributed to the upkeep of cultural hegemony. More recently, C. Wright Mills drew on conflict theory to describe the increase of a small power elite composed of military, economic, and political figures who have ruled America from the mid-twentieth century.

Many others have drawn on conflict theory to produce other sorts of views 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 originally, conflict theory described class conflicts specifically, it’s lent itself over the years to subjects of how other forms of conflicts, like those premised on race, gender, sexuality, religion, culture, and nationality, among others, are a neighborhood of up to date social structures, and the way they affect our lives.

Examples of Conflict Theory

For example, conflict theorists view the connection between a housing complex owner and a tenant as being based mainly on conflict rather than balance or harmony, albeit there could also be more harmony than conflict. They believe that they’re defined by getting whatever resources they will from one another.

In the above example, a number of the limited resources which can contribute to conflicts between tenants, and therefore the involved owner includes the limited space within the complex, the limited number of units, and the cash which tenants pay to the active owner for rent, and so on. Ultimately, conflict theorists see this dynamic together of conflict over these resources. The involved owner, however gracious a landlord he or she could also be, is fundamentally focused on getting as many apartment units filled as possible so that he or she will make the maximum amount of money in rent as possible. This might introduce conflict between housing complexes, among tenant applicants looking to maneuver into an apartment, then forth. On the opposite side of the conflict, the tenants themselves are looking to urge the most straightforward apartment possible for the smallest amount of cash in rent.


Q; What is the conflict theory in sociology?
A; Conflict theory, first purported by Marx, maybe an idea that society is during a state of perpetual conflict due to competition for limited resources. Conflict theory exists that social order is maintained by domination and power (rather than consent and conformity).
Q: Why is social conflict theory critical?
A: In sociology, conflict theory opines that society functions so that everyone or group involved can make the most straightforward use of advantages which within the end of the day bring about social changes. Most times, the idea is applied to elucidate the conflict between social classes in ideas like socialism and communism.
Q: How does conflict theory explain social inequality?
A: Conflict theory: A science view that holds that delamination is dysfunctional and dangerous in society, with contrast preserved because it helps the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor.
Q: What are the advantages of conflict theory?
A: Conflict theory views cultural life as a contest and concentrates on the division of resources, power, and bias. Unlike functionalist theory, conflict theory is best at explaining social change, and weaker at demonstrating social stability.

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