What is the Conflict Theory

Conflict theory was proposed by Karl Marx, one of the renowned sociologists.  According to the conflict theory, conflict was a persistent feature of the society which existed due to limited resources. The rich and powerful dominate the poor by any means they can. The social order is formed by the resourceful who also hold the power and dominate others. They try to maintain their positions and power through by any possible method they can. This theory states that everyone in the society will work towards their own personal gains.

The conflict theory by Karl Marx explains all types of conflicts. Wars between countries or in general, caste or racial discrimination, poverty and wealth and wide range of similar social phenomenon can be described through this theory. In most of the cases, there have been civil rights movements and fights against injustice because the people holding the power would do anything to retain it. Some race being too “dark” in colour to some caste being too “impure” to even touch, such were the reasons given to continue holding the power which gave some group supremacy over others.

Class Conflicts

Two primary classes were the focus of Karl Marx’s conflict theory. The bourgeoisie, who had the resources and power, and on the other hand, proletariat who were the poor working class. The bourgeoisies controlled all the means of production and dominated the proletariats. They were made to work for less wages and taken advantage of. The uneven distribution of wealth gave the bourgeoisies control over the working-class people and they also influenced decision making that favoured them. The conflict theory is based on the “pyramid” model of power and resource distribution as most of the resources are in the hands of a few who sit at the top and control others.

The bourgeoisies would force the proletariat into submission through the means of their resources and would favour those laws and other societal models that support their class. Eventually after years of subjugation, proletariats would revolt for their rights.

Example of conflict theory:

Suppose in a small underdeveloped country there is a group of individuals who run a large business that adds to the growth and development of the country. There are many workers who help with production and are underpaid. In this case, the people running the firm are taking advantage of these workers who are made to work for extra hours and are paid less. The owners of this firm can also influence government’s decision as the country is underdeveloped and the firm is bringing in huge returns for the country. Hence, the owners will persuade the government to take decisions that favour them. The underpaid workers are severely frustrated due to the mistreatment they receive and eventually they decide to form an union and revolt against the company by going on a strike for a few days.

The resources are limited in such country and are accumulated in the hands of very few while others have to toil hard to get even a part of this. This examples shows how conflict arises in a labour class that struggles to earn a living.

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