9 Sep 2022


Conflict Theory: Definition, Examples and Predictions

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Conflict theory is a perspective in the social psychology and also sociology. It is used to emphasise on the material inequality, political and social of a given social group. The theory also draws its attention to the power differentials like class conflict. When one views the poor versus the rich, the sick versus the healthy or t he wrong versus the right and also the evil versus the righteous, there is always a conflict that will exist among them all. Therefore, the societies are overpowered by the unjust regulations for employment, unfair wages, immoral methods, and also improper fees for education within the social classes. Hence, when conflict is placed on certain principles, life rationale will be divided further, and the control and dominance will then decompose standard customs of human life. Therefore, the text will discuss the conflict theory in depth by looking at the theorist, its variables and also models of the conflict theory. 

The traditions, laws and the fundamental social structure in a community usually develop so as to offer support to those who are in power or particular groups within the society who are viewed as being superior ( Appelrouth & Edles, 2016) . Also , the theory indicates that it is the interest of the people who are wealthy to the extent and also keep what they have. Also, it is the benefit of the poor people to keep on improving their lives. This theory can also be applied to both micro level such as church organisation and also macro levels such as United States government. Furthermore, the main assumptions of the current conflict theory include competition (it is usually over the scare resources such as sexual partner or money that is features of the being relationships) ( Appelrouth & Edles, 2016) . War (this act as the unifier of a community). Revolution (it indicates that changes occur due to the existence of a conflict of the competing interest of the social classes than any adaptations). Finally, structural inequality (inequality in the reward and power are usually created in all social structures). 

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Conflict Theory Variables 

In this approach , the independent variable will be redefined on the foundation of the social status such as techniques of competition, employment and finances in the society. The dependent variable will be the sole individual (Williams & McShane, 2014). Also , the independent variables can also include living statues like apartment versus houses, the physical and mental health of a person, the economic status and also education. Therefore, due to the inference of an individual and his or her impact on the society, the society will place that person within a particular class in which they will end up conflicting with each other due to how they associate and live within a given community. 

Weakness and Strength of the Study 

Conflict theory can be seen to be weaker at the level of an individual but stronger at the group level. The method has enabled us to understand the social mechanism that exists behind the competing groups which have substantial power differential. The method has also allowed us to understand instances where is the existence of a conflict of interest. It also opens ways in which community is viewed from the critical and alternative perspectives. Moreover, the theory does not explain deeply the reasons why individuals still cooperate and work together and also it has the rendering of demonstrating more of theorist’s characteristics and also ideas. 

The conflict theory can best be explained in the battle transition that runs from the Hobbes and Machiavelli to Weber and Marx. 

Hobbes and Machiavelli and Conflict Theory 

Hobbes and Machiavelli were the first theorist to pledge original position of the cynical realism about the human being within a given society. The behaviour of the person is being explained with their self-interest in the material world of the violence and also threat. They also see that the social order is developed on the organised coercion. Also , there is the struggle over the power in the world and also an ideological monarchy of the belief like law and religion. The moral of human are also created so as to serve the interested parties who are in conflict. 

Karl Marx and the Conflict Theory 

He developed the Marxism theory. It states that power can affect the people life situation within the society. It also indicates that the capitalism structure is an irresolvable conflict that exists between the capitalist class and the working class. For example, the states have the power to rule the nation, but they act as an instrument for the ruling class within the society. He believes that when there is democratically sharing, there will not be any struggle of power or class conflict in society. Also , he believes that conflict usually ascends as the value things by human being result from the human labour ( Marx, 2010). Furthermore, you will find the capitalist exploiting their employees to the labourer, and they later do not share any profit they have to obtain equally with the workers . Hence, the exploitation that is carried out by the capitalists is the one that makes them dominate politically. It also allows them to impose an ideology on labourer of the entire world. 

Mark also added the theory of the economic evolution. This approach turns everything to the desired political results. It's sociology also states that coercive power is supporting the particular kind of property like slavery . Hence the classes that are formed by the property divisions such as the workers and capitalists act as the neutralising agent in the struggle for the political power. It also states that the material contribution determines social classes' extent and it is organized in such a way that makes them fight for their interest. Finally, it says that the means of the mental production will determine which group of interests will be able to eloquent their ideas and knowledge so as to dominate the philosophical realm. He also developed the theory of stratification which was backed by several principles. These policies such as classes will differ in control using the mental production which produces a difference in class culture, acted as a basis for the conflict theory of the stratification ( Marx, 2010). 

Max Weber and the Conflict Theory 

The theorist stated that the conflicts that existed over the existence property in a similar society. He also indicates the existence of the various class division. He also includes the aspect of emotion in conflict. The theorist also come up with the theory of organisation by elaborating the ethics of the enterprise intercommunication (Lancee & Pardos‐Prado, 2013). He also looks at the sphere of the interest conflict which is the time do the intra-organizational divisions. Also , in society, there was also the existence of the struggles for the control (which can also be referred to the “means of the emotional production”). It is due to this that will the religion power and make the religion a vital tool for the government (Lancee & Pardos‐Prado, 2013). They will also be able to transform the classes into the groups status and also transform the national societies under a given circumstances like ethnicity. It can also make “legitimacy” to be a critical focus at the domination. 

Weber also indicates that creation of the emotional solidarity will not displace conflict, but it will act as one of the key weapons that will be used in any conflict within the society. The Emotional rituals also serve as a vehicle which the alliances are usually made so as a struggle against any other group within the community ( Hans & Knöbl, 2011) . They can also be used to impose the hierarchy of the status prestige of a particular cluster that will dominate other groups within a community. His theory of the religion integrates all the aspect of the domination through the manipulation of the emotional solidarity. The kinds of stratified solidarity include the educational-cultural group, feudal Estate, ethnic group and Caste who usually depend on the different distribution of resources for the emotional production. Also , according to the theorist, Weber, the first diminuendos are captured in the pyramid implicit of any religion that is between the nonmembers of the society, ritual followers and the ritual leaders ( Hans & Knöbl, 2011)

Dahrendorf (the Parsonian Conflict Theory) 

The theorist here is concerned about the relations of the authority. It acts as the social structure that permits the systematic derivation of the group battles . Also , any society that has power relationship , it will socially be expected to control by commands and order or prohibitions and warnings all the behaviours of baser elements in the community. It also suggests that in the authority relation, there is both conflict and consensus that will enable the individuals to have both latent and mutual interest. He also endeavours to separate the category of the battle groups from the economic determinations. Also , conflict is inevitable because the authority relations are vital and necessarily present worldwide (Salles, 2014). 

Wright Mills (Elite Conflict Theory) 

According to Mills, the Elites usually have the power by their location which is linked to the key structures within the society. Firstly, is political that is dominated by executive powers of Federal States. Secondly, the economic that is dominated by few corporations and also military. He also states that the United States systems of power is the moving balance of the many competing interests . He also views the United States as the “mass society” where the elites have or given the capacity to manipulate and manage the “public opinions” and also the “ contents of the men”. 

The Feminist Conflict Theory 

The theory has also been used by the feminist so as to explain their position within the society. It argues that the female has been oppressed traditionally over the past years so that the male dominant can benefit significantly from the position of status, wealth and also power ( Ralf, 2007) . The conflict also limited the natural resources which in turn made the male relegate the women to the domestic wok. It also to the idea that the male domination cannot be easily trusted. They cannot just give their power to the women. It is because it will conflict with the men inherent nature. 


The theory assists the individual in analysing the society in general . A person can use the conflict theory to clarify enmity that exists between the poor and the rich in any given society. This animosity that exists can be expressed physically, verbally or even emotionally. The theory can also be used to distinguish the class conflict. For example, the French Revolution battle . Another benefit of the approach is that it can be employed so that one understands the non-economic conflict that exists in society. For example, one may view the division between the Catholics and the Protestants over the spiritual resources. Furthermore, it is a useful ambiguous in all its application to the many phenomena. 

Also , life is usually seen as the struggle for the status. Therefore, groups within the society will interact with each other by the conflict rather on the consensus. It’s where each team will struggle to have or maintain non-material and material resources within the society. For example, the poor and the wealthy. Also , you will find that the influential people within the organisation will use their powers to exploit the minority group with the community and also retain their power. Hence conflict can be seen as the energy of change. It is also because it produces the contractions that can be resolved or even create more and new conflicts among the groups. The theorist also argued that the human history is brought about by the outcome of the conflict that existed between the classes that evolve over the period in unity with the changes in the community’s means of them meeting their material needs. 


Appelrouth, S., & Edles, L. D. (2016).    Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory: Text and Readings . Sage. 

Dahrendorf, Ralf. (2007). The Modern Social Conflict: The Politics of Liberty . Transaction Publishers.  ISBN 978-0765803856 

Joas, Hans, and Wolfgang Knöbl. 2011. Conflict sociology and conflict theory. In    Social Theory: Twenty introductory lectures . By Hans Joas and Wolfgang Knöbl, 174–198. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press. 

Lancee, B., & Pardos‐Prado, S. (2013). Group conflict theory in a longitudinal perspective: analysing the dynamic side of ethnic competition.    International Migration Review ,    47 (1), 106-131. 

Marx, K. (2010). A Contribution to the critique of political economy. In    Marx, Today   (pp. 91-94). Palgrave Macmillan US. 

Salles, J.M. (2014). “This Country Just Abolished College Tuition Fees.”    Thinkprogress.org. Retrieved from h ttp://thinkprogress.org/education/2014/10/01/3574551/germany-free-c ollege-tuition/ 

Williams III, F.P. & McShane, M.D. (2014). Criminological Theory (6 th  Ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall. 

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