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Conflict Theory. By: Erin Lepird, Sicily Canny, Mago Saldana. Conflict theory vs Marxism. Conflict theory: power is the core of ALL social relationships Marxism: much like conflict theory but power is gained through economics

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conflict theory

Conflict Theory

By: Erin Lepird, Sicily Canny, Mago Saldana

conflict theory vs marxism
Conflict theory vs Marxism
  • Conflict theory: power is the core of ALL social relationships
  • Marxism: much like conflict theory but power is gained through economics
      • Characterized by an economic struggle between the haves and have-nots.
conflict theory3
Conflict Theory
  • Alternative to functionalism
  • Macrosociological theoretical perspective
  • Resentment and hostility are constant elements of society
  • Power differences among social classes
  • Special interest groups fight over scarce resources of society
    • Interest groups fight to gain advantages over others
conflict theory cont d
Conflict Theory (Cont’d)
  • Competition puts society off-balance until dominant group gains control and stability through power
  • Karl Marx (1818-1883)
    • Humanist: wanted all individuals to reach their full human potential
    • Believed humans make their own history (historical method)
      • Controlling material production division of labor formation of economic social classes Class struggle
    • Trying to combine material and ideal factors/ structural and cultural factors
marx cont d
Marx (cont’d)
  • Society was a two-class system:
  • Bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production)
  • Proletariat (workers)
marx cont d7
Marx (cont’d)
  • Class differences have a lot to do with possession of personal property
  • Believed the exploited would become conscious and unite communism  elimination of class struggle
  • Main ideas behind communism are stated in the communist manifesto
max weber 1864 1920
Max Weber (1864-1920)
  • Agreed with Marx (economics played a central role in power distinction).
  • Believed in Two other factors:
    • Social prestige (status)
      • Example: someone could be poor and still hold a lot of power because of social prestige  Mother Theresa
    • Political influence
      • Example: Politician who has great power, but does not earn a big salary
max weber cont d
Max Weber (cont’d)
  • Weber defined power as “the ability to impose one’s will on another, even when the other objects” (p. 72 CST)
  • Authority: legitimate power; used with consent of the ruled
  • Distribution of power and authority = basis of social conflict
  • HOWEVER: if subordinates believe in the authority= avoided conflict
    • If authority is not recognized as a legitimate= conflict
max weber cont d10
Max Weber (cont’d)
  • People with power want to keep it
  • People w/out power want to seek it
  • 3 types of authority:
    • Rational-legal
    • Traditional
    • charismatic
georg simmel 1858 1918
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
  • Wanted to develop a mathematics of society
    • Collection of statements about human relationships and social behavior
  • Disagreed with Marx that social classes are formed horizontally
  • There are differences in power and opinions within each group.
georg simmel 1858 191812
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
  • Concepts and contributions:
    • Rejects organic theory
    • Saw society as the sum of individual interaction
    • The most important relationship is between leaders and followers, superior and subordinates
      • Superiordinate and subordinate have a reciprocal relationship
georg simmel 1858 191813
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
  • Believed social action always involves harmony and conflict, love and hatred (p.74)
  • Secrecy: people who hold secrets are in a position of power.
  • Some groups are formed around secrets and are known as secret societies
    • are usually in conflict with the greater society
    • Initiation creates hierarchy
modern conflict theory
Modern Conflict Theory
  • Ideas of Marx, Weber, and Simmel resurfaced in America in the 1950’s through two German Sociologists:
  • Lewis Coser
  • Ralph Dahrendorf
lewis coser 1913 2003
Lewis Coser (1913-2003)
  • Defined conflict as “a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals.”
  • Conflicts between intergroups and intragroups are part of social life
lewis coser 1913 200316
Lewis Coser (1913-2003)
  • Conflict is part of relationships and is not necessarily a sign of instability
  • Conflict serves several functions:
  • Leads to social change
  • Can stimulate innovation
  • During times of war threat, can increase central power
lewis coser 1913 200317
Lewis Coser (1913-2003)
  • Explored sixteen propositions of conflict through functions
  • Thought that conflict= boundaries between different groups unity between individual members of that group and determines boundaries of power
ralf dahrendorf 1929
Ralf Dahrendorf (1929- )
  • Social order is maintained by force from the top
  • Tension is constant
  • Extreme social change can happen at any time
  • “there cannot be conflict unless some degreee of consensus has already been established” (p. 89)
  • Once reached, conflict temporarily disappears
c wright mills 1916 1962
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
  • Work centered around power
  • Several dimensions of inequality (like Weber)
  • Power can be independent from economic class
  • Version of conflict theory-closer to Weber’s than Marx
c wright mills 1916 196220
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
  • Concept of power elite, rather than ruling class=difference between Marx and Mills
  • There is a triangle of power:
  • Military
  • Industry
  • Politics
  • White-collar world kept power elite on top
c wright mills 1916 196221
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
  • There are three types of power:
  • Authority: power justified by the beliefs of the voluntarily obedient
  • Manipulation: power wielded unknown to the powerless
  • Coercion: the “final” form of power, where the powerless are forced to obey the powerful
randall collins 1941
Randall Collins (1941- )
  • “power and status are fundamental relational dimensions at the micro level of social interaction and perhaps at the macro level as well” (p. 96)
  • Collins believes there are certain goods that every group wants to pursue
    • Wealth, power, and prestige
  • “Concluded that coercion and the ability to “force” others to behave a certain way are the primary basis of conflict” (p.96)
randall collins 194123
Randall Collins (1941- )
  • Had a stratified approach to conflict that had 3 basic principles and 5 principles of conflict analysis
  • Maintains that what social order does, is the result of power elites’ coercion of masses
  • Those without power seek social change
  • Two class system by Marx
  • Contemporary conflict theorists don’t limit power to just economics, but also look at other issues
relevancy cont d
Relevancy (cont’d)
  • Three criticisms of conflict theory:
  • Ignores other ways (i.e. non-forceful ways in which people reach agreements
  • Sides with people who lack power
  • Focuses on economic factors as the sole issue for all conflict in society
      • This primarily is for Marx’s approach
relevancy cont d26
Relevancy (cont’d)
  • Differences in power are in all types of interaction
  • Power used to be physical, but now, it’s legal and economic