Social conflict theory really begins with the work of Karl Marx. This theory encompasses the idea that there are different social classes within any society.
These social classes can be summed up into two groups: the wealthy vs. the poor. The theory states that the wealthy consistently uses their power to oppress the poor.
Sometimes, this form of oppression comes with brute force. Other times, this type of oppression comes through economics. Some theorists also believe that money is always at the root of social disorder.
Many examples of this theory can be found within modern societies today. Social conflict theory is present all around you if you look closely enough.
A Closer Look at Social Conflict Theory
In a classic summation of Marx’s original social conflict theory, various theorists have used the example of the renter versus the landlord. Even though the renter continues to pay an increasing amount of money to the landlord, the renter never gains any value or profit from this kind of transaction. Thus, the relationship between the landlord and the renter is unfair. This is a prime example of sociological conflict theory.
Another key example of social conflict theory is the general laborer. The laborer works within a factory or other industrial building, earns a wage, and goes home with a paycheck. This may seem fair until you take into consideration that the owner of that same factory must pay the worker a low wage in order to make any profit. Sociological conflict theory looks closely at these types of relationships.
Summation of the theory
We can summarize social conflict theory as:
- The exploitation of the lower class by the wealthy
- The unfair relationship between the worker/renter and the landlord/boss
- The idea that money will always bring about conflict
Conflict theory sociology is an interesting way to look at the world. Conflict theory may seem straightforward, but it isn’t always so cut and dry. In order to understand society, this Marxist theory must be considered without forgetting about other forms of sociological conflict theory.