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Conflict Theory - Essay Example

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Conflict Theory

As Collins (1974) writes, "the level of interpersonal interaction is all-inclusive; by the same token, it is highly abstract. To reduce its myriad complexities to causal order requires theory on another level of analysis. The most fruitful tradition of explanatory theory is the conflict tradition, running from Machiavelli and Hobbes to Marx and Weber" (Collins, 1974, p.56). It needs to be noted that conflict approach should be viewed in two interrelated context: the authors' contemporary settings as well as the modern stage of sociopolitical development (ibid).
Hobbes and Machiavelli were the first apologists of conflict theory, but their studies were directed rather to political dynamic enhancement than to certain social issues. Human behavior was explained in sense of their mercantile nature and materialistic interests (ibid; Coser, 1977), so the main precondition for conflict approach was the assumption that individuals struggle for commodities and defend their interests in most desperate way. Threat and violence breed nothing, but additional cruelty as well as the institutionalization and legalization of social and political intimidation (Aron, 1965). (Individuals' behavior is explained in terms of their self-interests in a material world of threat and violence. Furthermore, social order was founded primarily as coercion, organized by governments and aimed at oppressing certain social classes in favor of narrow circles. Machiavelli added into the study another component, which was an ideology, an artificial control method: in the realms of belief and devotion (associated with law or religion), and in the secret world of struggle over influence, virtues, concepts and mores do not precede interaction, but are introduced as socially created doctrine that serves the interests of certain factions.
Marx (1818-1883) was probably the main contributor to conflict perspective, as he concretized the earlier studies and Hobbes' scientific inquiries in order to add more specific factors determining the lines of division among clashing interests. Furthermore, the social scientist pointed to material and economic circumstances which activate particular interest manifestation. In addition, his theory of economic evolution became a sociological framework for several generations, since it precisely indicated the wheels that facilitated the achievement of political goals: market regulation, commodity and consumption culture creation and the low satisfaction of basic needs (in the majorities). Nevertheless, I would like to narrow my focus on Marx's sociological views, which could be explained as following.
First of all, "historically, particular forms of property (slavery, feudal landholding, capital) are upheld by the coercive power of the state; hence classes formed by property divisions (slaves and slave-owners, serfs and lords, capitalists and workers) are the opposing agents in the struggle for political power the underpinning of their means of livelihood" (Marx and Engels, 1930, p.48). Secondly, financial contributions establish the degree to which social groups are entitled to arrange their 'interest struggle', such mobilizing conditions constitute an array of interrelated variables between class and political influence.
Tertially, there are some other conditions, organization and functioning of mental production, which naturally resolve the conflict between interests, because intellectual potential is ...Show more

Summary

Social theories count enormous number, but few of them have survived the criticism periods and the ages of new formations. Conflict theory is probably one of those which have remained intact in spite of the fact that its perspectives are gradually becoming out of date…
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