Conflict theory is a difficult concept to explain. The theory itself was originally coined by Karl Marx, though later the theory was adapted and developed by other theorists such as Max Weber. In order to learn about conflict theory, one must begin with an individual or group.
In many ways, conflict theory really begins with the role that one person or group plays within the larger social scene. Additionally, theory in conflict states that the whole point of a society is to create social change. Often, this change occurs through a matter of physical strife and struggle.
Is Conflict Always A Struggle?
There are a few ways that conflict theory can begin to form including:
- Conflict between social classes
- Proletarian versus bourgeoisie
- Capitalism versus socialism
Clearly, the conflict theory takes a number of things into consideration. While there always seems to be some sort of struggle between social classes, this is not always the case. Sometimes, conflict theory can be applied to ideologies including capitalism and socialism. Sometimes, theory in conflict has to do with the ways in which one group can better its social position. Often, conflict theory is a physical resistance, but sometimes itâ€™s just a battle of the brains.
The Trickling Down of Conflict Theory
You can think of the conflict theory as a sort of trickle-down effect, or as a pyramid. At the top of the social scene sits the elite. The elite tend to set the laws and rules for the general population. Most laws and rules of the land usually benefit those that have already been in power for many years.
As soon as the general population begins to rebel against this form of social order, they will be labeled ’societal outlaws’.€ While the conflict theory does not seek to support either side, it does seek to study how those that have power stay in power. In summation, to learn all about conflict theory is to study how the elite manage to hold onto their position at the top of the pyramid while they are being challenged by the masses.