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The Social Conflict Theory has been explained by various scholars and even though they had different interpretations, their aim was to offer an elaborated explanation about the events happening in the society (Dillon 11). Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx, Emile Rousseau, and Plato have presented various discussions about the causes, effects, and solutions to conflicts in society. This essay describes the similarities and differences between their perspectives regarding the function of conflict in society.
Sociologists define conflict as a state of misunderstanding in the society caused by the desire to control or have resources that are scarce yet valuable (Ritzier 12). Therefore, conflict can be defined in terms of the struggle to get wealth and power that are usually the main issues that propel people to fight. Sociologists present different views about how conflict occurs and how it is managed in society depending on their experiences and backgrounds.
He believed that social order was possible in all societies irrespective of whether they were developed or not. He claims that people give themselves first priorities in various issues and this means that they place their interests before those of society. In addition, he claims that people have rights but sometimes these privileges are given up to achieve a stable society; therefore, they must sacrifice some aspects in their lives to live in harmony with other members of society (Dillon 27). That is why a lot of human interests are regulated and governed by laws and not negotiations. His theory is based on the belief that families are not harmonious and that people must manage their differences to attain a stable society. Therefore, his main idea revolves around the need to solve conflicts that make or break societies. He believed that societies and families that were stable in case they had conflicts but knew how to manage them to ensure members cooperate in various issues. Therefore, the absence of wars does not mean that a social group does not experience conflicts.
Most people regard him as the father of the Social Conflict Theory because of his contributions to discussions about the order in society. He argued that society consisted of different groups that competed for similar interests that were usually wealth and power (Ritzier 23). This theory differs from Hobbes’s in explaining how conflicts exist and are managed. He argues that people maintain social order through domination and not consensus. This means that those that have the greatest economic, political, and social resources control a huge part of the society and have power over their counterpart.
On the other hand, the poor are always struggling to break away from poverty to ensure they control a significant part of resources in society (Dillon 40). Therefore, the rich and poor unite with their members to form a strong opposition to safeguard their interests. He claims that inequality will exist in society because the rich will always struggle to protect their wealth and block attempts by the poor to ascend the ladder of success (Appelrouth 56). This explains why politics is controlled by a minority group of elites that usually take advantage of the poor. Therefore, the poor are usually forced to unite to defend their interests and that is why Marx emphasized the need to struggle to attain social justice and equality to ensure people enjoy their rights.
His arguments are controversial and that is why some people believe that he is the father of modern socialism. He believed that society was fragmented and every part played its role according to its abilities. Therefore, he claimed that there was no need of struggling to get out of caste because that was the way nature destined people to be (Ritzier 47). His argument was based on the belief that people could not be the same because of differences in their abilities. He proposes a three-tier system that ensures conflicts are reduced and the society functions well. His belief was based on the Athenian Democracy that allowed a handful of people to rule while the majority served them; therefore, creating inequality in the society.
He explains that individuals have different skills that enable them to perform various roles that place them in various positions in society. He believed that most people had limited skills and that is why their role was to serve others; therefore, they were classified under the workers’ category (Dillon 76). They include farmers, masons, and other individuals that struggle to get basic needs. His theory explains that the second category consists of warriors that protect the society and their abilities are vested in their physical prowess that shows their brevity and strength (Appelrouth 63). They include police officers and other security-related employees whose main agenda is to protect the elites. The last category consists of rulers and those that control various events in society. They include individuals that are intelligent and wise to ensure they make decisions for other members of society. This places them above other members because they are perceived to reason better than the rest. They are given leadership positions that make them powerful and able to control the activities of others.
His argument is based on the belief that the physical traits of individuals determine their positions in society. He believed that people questioned the intelligence of those that had physical inability and believed they did not deserve to be treated as equals. The society believes that there are differences between people that have physical inability and those that do not have (Ritzier 79). Physical inequality is promoted by the assumption that disabled people are not supposed to be treated like normal people. This theory is based on the belief that conflicts in society arise from social inequalities created by disabilities. Other issues like gender and race are also considered to be physical inability and those with a less valued trait are treated like servants (Appelrouth 79). Those that possessed a lot of the desired qualities were perceived to be superior-top their counterparts.
These beliefs are based on the assumptions of the roles of individuals in society. They explain various issues that propel people to act differently and for groups to protect their interests. Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx present persuasive arguments because their theories outline conflict in a simple and direct manner. Hobbes explains how personal interests motivate individuals to protect their identities and advance their needs. Marx presents society as an engine controlled by individuals that have social, political, and economic resources to dominate others. The arguments presented by these theorists are valid and realistic because that is how societies behave. Plato and Rousseau do not explain how different groups in society promote or solve conflicts.
Appelrouth, Scott. Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Text and Readings. California: SAGE Publications, 2009. Print.
Dillon, Michele. Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and their Applicability to the Twenty-First Century. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print.
Ritzier, George. Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.