Social conflict
Social conflict is the struggle for agency
Agency (sociology)
In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to the factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions...

 or power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

 in society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

Social conflict or group conflict occurs when two or more actors oppose each other in social interaction,reciprocally exerting social power in an effort to attain scarce or incompatible goals and prevent the opponent from attaining them. It is a social relationship wherein the action is oriented intentionally for carrying out the actor's own will against the resistance of other party or parties

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory emphasizes interests, rather than norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

 and values, in conflict. The pursuit of interests generates various types of conflict. Thus conflict is seen as a normal aspect of social life rather an abnormal occurrence. Competition over resources is often the cause of conflict. The three tenets of this theory are the following: 1) Society is composed of different groups that compete for resources. 2) While societies
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 may portray a sense of cooperation, there is a continual power struggle between social groups as they pursue their own interests. Within societies, certain groups control specific resources and means of production
Means of production
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

. 3) Social groups will use resources to their own advantage in the pursuit of their goals. This often means that those who lack control over resources will be taken advantage of. As a result, many dominated groups will struggle with other groups in attempt to gain control. The majority of the time, the groups with the most resources will gain or maintain power (due to the fact that they have the resources to support their power). The idea that those who have control will maintain control is known as The Matthew Effect

One branch of conflict theory is critical criminology
Critical criminology
Critical criminology is a theoretical perspective in criminology which takes a conflict perspective, such as marxism, feminism, political economy theory or critical theory. The focus of critical criminology is the genesis of crime and nature of ‘justice’ within a structure of class and status...

. This term is based upon the view that the fundamental causes of crime is oppression, resulting from social and economic forces operating within a given society. This perspective stems from German philosopher, Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, who believed the justice system and laws favor the rich and powerful in a society and that the poor are punished far more severely for much smaller crimes.

Another branch of conflict theory is the conflict theory of aging. This came about in the 1980s due to a setback in federal spending and a loss of jobs across the nation; the older generations competed with the younger generation for employment. Among those that were the worst effected were women, low-income families, and minorities.

Karl Marx

Marx himself wrote:
In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.

Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation. In broad outline, the Asiatic, ancient,[A] feudal and modern bourgeois modes of production may be designated as epochs marking progress in the economic development of society. The bourgeois mode of production is the last antagonistic form of the social process of production – antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism but of an antagonism that emanates from the individuals' social conditions of existence – but the productive forces developing within bourgeois society create also the material conditions for a solution of this antagonism. The prehistory of human society accordingly closes with this social formation.

Karl Marx, a German revolutionary, emphasized his materialist views on ownership and means of production. He argued that what is most valued is a result of human labor and founded his ideas based on a capitalistic community, meaning a majority of the money is owned by only a small percentage. This causes a distinction between two classes, the industrialists and the working class. The industrialists, the ones that make up the small percentage, own the means of production. The working class are those earning their wages by selling their labor. Problems become noticeable because the upper class is looking to get the most production possible for the least amount of money. A Surplus value is created; the profit industrialists hold onto caused by workers producing more than the employers actually need to repay the cost of hiring laborers. Another occurrence is exploitation; when workers receive less money than what their labor is worth. Marx believed that the gap between industrialists and the laborers would continue to grow. The industrialists would become more and more wealthy, and the laborers continue to move towards poverty. Conflict theory is seen throughout relationships and interactions between two groups of people including races, opposite sexes, and religions.

Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 and Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 have two different approaches to the conflict theory. Marx supports the ideas of deviance
Deviance (sociology)
Deviance in a sociological context describes actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms...

, claiming that individuals choose to engage in such rebellious and conflicting behavior as a response to the inequalities of the capitalist system. Weber discusses the conflict of stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 and its effects on power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

 in society. He stresses property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

, prestige, and power as the main influences to the conflicting behaviors of groups in society.

Karl Marx argued:
"The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity -- and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally."

A commodity is a social use value produced by its owner not for personal consumption but for exchange. Marx believed that an entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to...

 has more and more to keep up with the more his company and power expands. It becomes more difficult each time his range of power increases. Eventually, the entrepreneur himself will become a commodity because he/she will no longer be able to keep up with their business and will have to put themselves (their company) up for sale on the market.


Stratification is the distribution of a valued good in levels, or could be looked as the inequalities among individuals and groups. Weber determined that there are three levels of stratification and those include: property (economic class), prestige (status), and power (party). Property is related to control and ownership; prestige is the position that gains value determined by interactions with others; power is influence, relations, and position.

Systems of Stratification

These systems share 3 characteristics. They are as follows:

1. The rankings apply to social categories of people who share a common characteristic without necessarily interacting or identifying with each other.

2. People's life experiences and opportunities depend on the ranking of their social category.

3. The ranks of different social categories change very slowly over time.

Conflict Interests

Conflict of interest is a type of conflict interest. We can define a conflict of interest as a situation in which a person has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties as, say, a public official, an employee, or a professional."
"Social conflict is not limited to hostile or antagonistic opposition; it is not wholly a clash of coercive powers as often is implied, but of any opposing social powers".Social conflict is usually recognized through violence, and physical behavior. Yet,its more that just fighting, and killing one another. At times, it can deal with it throw a simple town in a conversation. It is acknowledged by someone's power."

Dr. Coser, a sociologist, disagrees with the majority of American sociologists who, he contends, have badly neglected and misunderstood the concept and function of social conflict. He defines social conflict as '… a struggle over the values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals'. He believes that the prevalent tendency is to look upon conflict as dysfunctional and pathological.

Types of social conflict:
  • conflict involving social position
    Social position
    Social position is the position of an individual in a given society and culture. A given position may belong to many individuals. Social position influences social status...

  • conflict of interest
    Conflict of interest
    A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other....

  • role conflict
    Role conflict
    "Role conflict is a conflict among the roles corresponding to two or more statuses."Example:"People in modern, high-income countries juggle many responsibilities demanded by their various statuses and roles. As most mothers can testify both parenting and working outside the home are physically and...

     - conflict involving social roles

See also

  • Conflict theory
    Conflict theory
    Conflict theories are perspectives in social science that emphasize the social, political or material inequality of a social group, that critique the broad socio-political system, or that otherwise detract from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism...

  • social conflict theory
    Social conflict theory
    Social conflict theory is a Marxist-based social theory which argues that individuals and groups within society have differing amounts of material and non-material resources Social conflict theory is a Marxist-based social theory which argues that individuals and groups (social classes) within...

     - a Marxist criminology theory
  • sociology of conflict

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.