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Chapter 10:Conflict Theory

Chapter 10:Conflict Theory

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Chapter 10:Conflict Theory

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  1. Chapter 10:Conflict Theory

  2. Rise of Conflict Theory • Based upon Marxist ideals and thoughts • Revitalized in the 1950’s by many American sociologists

  3. 一.What is Conflict Theory? • Conflict theory generally surrounds the idea that most struggles in society happen because of conflicts between different social classes or groups • Each group struggles to attain more resources and because resources are scarce, they must struggle with other groups • Groups try to protect their own interests, therefore blocking the progress of other groups

  4. Conflict cont. • Individuals have aggressive impulses and these impulses are expressed in all relationships, especially close relationships • Love and Hate • Outside influences influence our emotions and cause conflict with those around us • From conflict comes social change • American Revolution • Civil Rights (1960’s)

  5. Conflict as a Binding Element • We often mistake conflict as always being a dividing factor, it can instead have quite the opposite reaction • When two groups are pitted against one another, the bonds between members of each group within itself become much closer

  6. Violence, Conflict, and Change • Violence can often bring about change • Some individuals believe violence is an accomplishment and therefore create as much as possible • Violence can also point out problems that might not be obvious Violence can bring about public activism and force change through public attitudes

  7. What is conflict • What is conflict?

  8. Definitions of social conflict • Social conflict is a struggle over values or claims to status, power, and scarce resources • The aims of the conflict groups are not only to gain the desired values, but also to neutralize, injure, or eliminate rivals. • Social conflict encompasses a broad range of social phenomena: class, racial, religious, and communal conflicts; riots, rebellions, revolutions; strikes and civil disorders; marches, demonstrations, protest gatherings.

  9. Theory of Social Conflict • A comprehensive theory of social conflict encompasses: • The structural sources of social conflict, relying on stratification, social change, and macro-sociological theories. • Conflict-group formation and the mobilization for collective action of challenging groups and their targets. For this topic, theories of collective action, social capital, recruitment, participation, commitment, and internal structure are useful. • The dynamics of conflict: processes of interaction between conflict groups; the forms of conflict; its magnitude, scope, and duration; escalation and de-escalation; conflict regulation and resolution; conflict outcomes.

  10. There are numerous causes of conflict at all levels • Lack of cooperation • External support • Group cohesion • Communication failure • Leadership Personality • Value differences • Cultural differences • Ethnic differences • Civilization • Goal differences • Technology differences • Military built-up Economic competition Military competition Competition over natural resources such as water, forests, oil, gems etc

  11. Major Proposition of Conflict Theories • Society is not a system in equilibrium but a nebulous structure of imperfectly coordinated elements • Change and conflict are continuous and normal; inherent predilections to change vary in scope, nature, intensity and degree • Every society experiences at every moment social conflict • Every element in a society contributes to its change • Every society rests on constrain of some of its members by others • Social universe is the setting within which the conflict of life are acted out

  12. Marx and conflict theory Karl Marx Focussed on economic conditions under capitalism. • Society is product of economic production. • Productive forces: technology, energy, resources. • Productive relations: owner-worker; worker-worker. • Class is a power relationship.

  13. Karl Marx (1818-1883) “There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases in wealth without diminishing its misery, and increases in crime even more than its numbers.” Marx, K. (1859). Population, crime and pauperism.Collected Works, (16).

  14. Friedrich Engels (1920-1995) Portrayed crime as a function of social demoralization- a collapse of people’s humanity reflecting a decline in society. The brutality of the capitalist system turns workers into animal-like creatures without a will of their own.

  15. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels • Social relations • Are determined by productive relations and the means of production. • Capitalism • Encourages exploitation of workers in pursuit of profit (surplus value). • Workers rise up against the owners. • Crime is a product of misery, inequality and social demoralization.

  16. Society • Is composed of have and have-nots, rulers and ruled. • Laws • Reflect the interests of the dominant class. • Capitalism • Encourages egoism and criminality by equating status with property.

  17. Punishment • Only crimes of the poor are punished. • Economic inequality • Intensifies personal problems and crime. • Crime • Will virtually disappear with equal distribution of property.

  18. The justice system operates to protect the rich and powerful by: • how crimes are defined. • how laws are enforced. • how law-breakers are punished.

  19. Power relations • Conflict is rooted in the competition for power. • Power provides the means to influence public opinion for private gain. • Those in power use the law to criminalize those without power (e.g. minority groups).

  20. Table 10.1 summarizes Marx's assumptions about the social world and the key forces behind conflict and change in societies.

  21. Ⅰ. The more unequal is the distribution of scarce resources in a society, the greater is the basic conflict of interest between its dominant and subordinate segments, • Ⅱ. The more subordinate segments become aware of their true collective interests,the more likely they are to question the legitimacy of the existing pattern of distribution of scarce resources. • Ⅲ Subordinates are more likely to become aware of their true collective interests when • A, Changes wrought by dominant segments disrupt existing relations among subordinates. • B. Practices of dominant segments create alienative dispositions. • C. Members of subordinate segments can communicate their grievances to one another, which, in turn, is facilitated by • 1. The ecological concentration among members of subordinate groups. • 2. The expansion of educational opportunities for members of subordinate groups. • D. Subordinate segments can develop unifying ideologies, which, in turn, is facilitated by • 1. The capacity to recruit or generate ideological spokespeople. • 2. The inability of dominant groups to regulate socialization processes and communication networks among subordinates. • Ⅳ, The more that subordinate segments of a system become aware of their collective interests and question the legitimacy of the distribution of scarce resource. the more likely they are to join in overt conflict against dominant segments of a system, especially when • A. Dominant groups cannot clearly articulate, nor act in, their collective interests, • B, Deprivations of subordinates move from an absolute to a relative basis, or escalate rapidly, • C, Subordinate groups can develop a political leadership structure. • Ⅴ. The greater is the ideological unification of members of subordinate segments of a system and the more developed is their political leadership structure, the more likely are the interests and relations between dominant and subjugated segments of a society to become polarized and irreconcilable. • Ⅵ.The more polarized are the dominant and subjugated, the more will the conflict be violent. • Ⅶ.The more violent is the conflict, the greater is the amount of the structural change within a society and the greater is the redistribution of scarce resources.

  22. MAX WEBER AND CONFLICT THEORY • According to Weber, the stratification of society was based on a broader range of factors, including • ....wealth • ....power • ....prestige • And one could have any one of these to be in a “higher” class.....

  23. Conflict and Radical Theories • Examine structural causes of crime • Crime and law enforcement are often political acts rooted in group or class conflict • Causes of crime are seen as rooted in conflict that stems from inequality

  24. Conflict vs. Radical Theories • Conflict theories • Max Weber • Georg Simmel • Inequality based on differences in wealth, status, ideas, religious beliefs etc. • Differences result in formation of interest groups that struggle with each other for power • Conflict is pluralistic

  25. Max Weber • Dimensions of inequality • Power • Wealth • Prestige • Conflict is most likely when these 3 kinds of stratification coincide • Conflict is also likely when access to these positions are highly restricted

  26. Table 10.2 Weber's Abstracted Propositions on Conflict Processes • Ⅰ. Subordinates are more likely to pursue conflict with superordinates when they withdraw legitimacy from political authority. • Ⅱ. Subordinates are more likely to withdraw legitimacy from political authority when • A. The correlation among memberships in class, status group, and political hierarchies is high. • B. The discontinuity or degrees of inequality in t he resource distributions within social hierarchies is high. • C. Rates of social mobility up social hierarchies of power, prestige, and wealth are low. • Ⅲ. Conflict between superordinates and subordinates~ becomes~ more likely when charismatic leaders can mobilize resentments of subordinates. • Ⅳ. When charismatic leaders are successful in conflict, pressures mount to routinize authority through new systems of rules and administration. • Ⅴ. As a system of rules and administrative authority is imposed, the more likely are conditionsⅡ-A,Ⅱ-B, andⅡ-C to be met, and hence, the more likely are new subordinates to withdraw legitimacy from political authority and to pursue conflict with the new subordinates, especially when new traditional and ascriptive forms of political domination are imposed by elites.

  27. Table 10.4 Simmel's Abstracted Propositions on Conflict Processes • Ⅰ. The level of violence in conflict increases when • A. The parties to the conflict have a high degree of emotional involvement, which, in turn, is related to the respective levels of solidarity among parties to the conflict. • B. The membership of each conflict party perceives the conflict to transcend their individual self-interests, which, in turn, is related to the extent to which the conflict is about value-infused issues. • Ⅱ The level of violence in conflict is reduced when the conflict is instrumental and perceived by the conflict parties to be a means to clear-cut and delimited goals. • Ⅲ Conflict will generate the following among the parties to a conflict: • A. Clear group boundaries. • B. Centralization of authority and power. • C. Decreased tolerance of deviance and dissent. • D. Increased internal solidarity among memberships of each party, but particularly for members of minority parties and for groups engaged in self defense. • Ⅳ. Conflict wig have integrative consequences for the social whole when • A. Conflict is frequent, low in intensity, and low in violence, which, in turn, allows disputants to release hostilities. • B, Conflict occurs in a system whose members and subunits reveal high levels of functional interdependence, which, in turn, encourages the creation of normative agreements to regulate the conflict so that the exchange of resources is not disrupted. • C. Conflict produces coalitions among various conflicting parties.

  28. Dahrendorf • West German • Very critical of functional theory • Thought functional theory was “utopian” • Presented a perfect society • Too conservative • Tried to incorporate a dialectical view • Conflict leading to change • Use Marx, Weber, and Simmel

  29. His World • Post-war Germany • Split between a capitalist West and a communist East • No new societal movements or conflict • Mass movements like Fascism or Socialism not present • A non-ideological age • “struggles” over technical issues no the very nature of society • Both East and West dominated by large organizations

  30. ICA • Imperatively Coordinated Associations • Derived from Weber and legal rational authority • Power with an ICA based on position in the ICA • Power is power of others • A source of conflict

  31. Quasi Group • Those who are ruled in the organization ICA • Not aware of their common postion • Sounds like Marx and class • Common objective interest • Need to move to class consciosness • Class based on power not economics

  32. Social Change • Conflict is over authority in ICA • Results in new distribution of authority within the ICA • Many ICAs in a society • Marx’s concept of two classes become many classes but two per an ICA

  33. Why limited conflict • Takes form Simmel • We belong to many ICAs • They are overlapping and limited • Differs from Marx • Marx had only two major classes and they covered all of society • Differs from Weber • Authority and power in an organization

  34. Lewis Coser • An American Sociologist • A Functional conflict theorist • Seems like a conflict • But tried to bring conflict into a general functionalist perspective • Deeply influenced by Simmel

  35. Main Points • Conflict not given enough attention in functional thought • Conflict need not be “pathological” • Conflict can lead to adaptation and social order • Not a dialectical theorist • Still put an emphasis on consensus

  36. Conclusion • A major change in course in sociology • From consensus to conflict • Away from functional thought • But perhaps too much emphasis on conflict