Conflict Theory

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A sociological perspective that views society as a system of unequal groups that compete for scarce resources, power, and status.

An approach to sociology known as conflict theory sees society as a collection of unequal factions vying for control over limited resources and social status. 

Karl Marx, who promoted the idea that society is composed of two main classes—the bourgeoisie, who control the means of production, and the proletariat, who supplies the capitalists with labor—developed the concept of conflict. Marx argued that the bourgeoisie abuses the proletariat by underpaying them, which results in a basic conflict of interest between the two groups.

Conflict theory asserts that the dominance and coercion of powerful groups over weaker groups maintain social order and that the collective activity and resistance of oppressed groups against their oppressors is what propels social change. The functionalist approach, which holds that social issues are brought on by the social system's dysfunctions or maladaptations, is challenged by conflict theory. This position contends that society is based on consensus and harmony. According to conflict theory, structural injustices and inequities in the social system are what lead to social issues and conflict, struggle, and change are important aspects of society.

Many facets of society, including class, race, gender, religion, politics, education, health, and culture, have been the subject of conflict theory applications. Other sociological theories, including critical theory, feminist theory, postmodern theory, and social movement theory, have also affected and been influenced by conflict theory. Conflict theory has come under fire for being overly pessimistic, deterministic, simplistic, and radical as well as for disregarding the cooperative, complicated, and moderate components of society. In addition to being hailed for being realistic, dynamic, critical, and transformative, conflict theory has also received recognition for revealing covert conflicts, power dynamics, and social injustices in society.