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Conflict Perspective. According to this perspective, groups in society are engaged in a continuous power struggle for control of scarce resources Conflict may take the form of politics, litigation, negotiation or family discussion about financial matters. Conflict Perspective.

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Conflict Perspective

According to this perspective, groups in society are engaged in a continuous power struggle for control of scarce resources

Conflict may take the form of politics, litigation, negotiation or family discussion about financial matters


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Conflict Perspective

Advocates of the conflict perspective view social life as a continuous struggle among competing social groups

Key influences: Simmel, Weber, Marx


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Conflict Perspective

Marx focused on the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class

Weber saw the significance of economic conditions in producing inequality, but added power and prestige as other sources of inequality

Power – the ability of a person within a social relationship to carry out his or her own will despite resistance from others

Prestige – a positive or negative social estimation of honour


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Conflict Perspective

Other theorists, such as Dahrendorf (1959), simply see conflict as part of everyday life

People in positions of authority benefit from the conformity of others; those who are forced to conform feel resentment and demonstrate resistance

eg. children vs. their parents


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Conflict Perspective

Mills (1916-1962) maintained that sociologists should get involved in social change

He did not believe that sociologists could be “value free”; he encouraged others to address the major resource and power inequalities in society

He believed that the most important decisions are made mostly behind the scenes by the power elite


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Conflict Perspective

The power elite – a small clique composed of the top corporate, political and military officials


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Conflict PerspectiveApplying Conflict Perspectives to Suicide(p. 25-26)

How do social theorists link social class pressures to suicide among North American teenagers?

What are the known risk factors associated with suicide among Canadian youth? For those people who commit (or attempt to commit) suicide and who do not fit these descriptions, what others factors do you think might play a role?

Why are suicide rates so high among minority groups, particularly among Aboriginals? How does the conflict framework (perspective) differ from other research?

What are some of the benefits of the conflict perspective? What are some of the criticisms of the conflict perspective?


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Conflict Perspective - Why does prostitution continue to exist in Canadian society?

  • Society can only be understood by examining the way power is managed in it.

  • Society’s normal state is not one of harmony but one of struggle for power.

  • Prostitution is a classic example of people with power using it to exploit people without power.

  • In general, women have less power and money.

  • Some women, due to lack of money, are forced to become prostitutes against their will.

  • Men with money are therefore able to exploit and degrade women for their own sexual gratification.


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Conflict Perspective - Why does prostitution continue to exist in Canadian society?

  • Ironically, the law has historically punished the prostitutes. (The laws that make prostitution illegal are created by powerful dominant group members who seek to maintain cultural dominance by criminalizing sexual conduct that they consider immoral or in bad taste.)

  • Their clients have not been considered guilty of a crime.

  • The powerless are objects for the law to punish, while the powerful are ignored.

  • Conflict theorists suggest that criminalizing prostitution uniquely affects poor women, especially poor women of colour, who are overrepresented among street prostitutes.


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