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Conflict Theory

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Conflict Theory
By: Erin Lepird, Sicily Canny,
Mago Saldana
Conflict theory vs Marxism
Conflict theory: power is the core of ALL
social relationships
пЃ¬ Marxism: much like conflict theory but
power is gained through economics
пЃ¬
пЃ¬ Characterized
by an economic struggle between
the haves and have-nots.
Conflict Theory
Alternative to functionalism
пЃ¬ Macrosociological theoretical perspective
пЃ¬ Resentment and hostility are constant
elements of society
пЃ¬ Power differences among social classes
пЃ¬ Special interest groups fight over scarce
resources of society
пЃ¬
пЃ¬ Interest
others
groups fight to gain advantages over
Conflict Theory (Cont’d)
пЃ¬
Competition puts society off-balance until
dominant group gains control and stability
through power
Influences
пЃ¬
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Humanist: wanted all individuals to reach their
full human potential
пЃ¬ Believed humans make their own history
(historical method)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬ Controlling
material productionпѓ division of
laborпѓ formation of economic social classesпѓ Class struggle
пЃ¬
Trying to combine material and ideal factors/
structural and cultural factors
Marx (cont’d)
пЃ¬
1.
2.
Society was a two-class system:
Bourgeoisie (owners of the means of
production)
Proletariat (workers)
Marx (cont’d)
Class differences have a lot to do with
possession of personal property
пЃ¬ Believed the exploited would become
conscious and uniteпѓ communism пѓ elimination of class struggle
пЃ¬ Main ideas behind communism are stated
in the communist manifesto
пЃ¬
Max Weber (1864-1920)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
Agreed with Marx (economics played a
central role in power distinction).
Believed in Two other factors:
1.
Social prestige (status)
пЃ¬
2.
Example: someone could be poor and still hold a
lot of power because of social prestige пѓ Mother
Theresa
Political influence
пЃ¬
Example: Politician who has great power, but
does not earn a big salary
Max Weber (cont’d)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
Weber defined power as “the ability to impose
one’s will on another, even when the other
objects” (p. 72 CST)
Authority: legitimate power; used with consent of
the ruled
Distribution of power and authority = basis of
social conflict
HOWEVER: if subordinates believe in the
authority= avoided conflict
пЃ¬
If authority is not recognized as a legitimate= conflict
Max Weber (cont’d)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
People with power want to keep it
People w/out power want to seek it
3 types of authority:
1.
2.
3.
Rational-legal
Traditional
charismatic
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
пЃ¬
Wanted to develop a mathematics of
society
пЃ¬
Collection of statements about human
relationships and social behavior
Disagreed with Marx that social classes
are formed horizontally
пЃ¬ There are differences in power and
opinions within each group.
пЃ¬
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
пЃ¬
Concepts and contributions:
Rejects organic theory
пЃ¬ Saw society as the sum of individual
interaction
пЃ¬ The most important relationship is between
leaders and followers, superior and
subordinates
пЃ¬
пЃ¬ Superiordinate
relationship
and subordinate have a reciprocal
Georg Simmel (1858-1918)
Believed social action always involves
harmony and conflict, love and hatred
(p.74)
пЃ¬ Secrecy: people who hold secrets are in a
position of power.
пЃ¬ Some groups are formed around secrets
and are known as secret societies
пЃ¬
are usually in conflict with the greater society
пЃ¬ Initiation creates hierarchy
пЃ¬
Modern Conflict Theory
пЃ¬
1.
2.
Ideas of Marx, Weber, and Simmel
resurfaced in America in the 1950’s
through two German Sociologists:
Lewis Coser
Ralph Dahrendorf
Lewis Coser (1913-2003)
Defined conflict as “a struggle over values
and claims to scarce status, power and
resources in which the aims of the
opponents are to neutralize, injure, or
eliminate their rivals.”
пЃ¬ Conflicts between intergroups and
intragroups are part of social life
пЃ¬
Lewis Coser (1913-2003)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
1.
2.
3.
Conflict is part of relationships and is not
necessarily a sign of instability
Conflict serves several functions:
Leads to social change
Can stimulate innovation
During times of war threat, can increase
central power
Lewis Coser (1913-2003)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
Explored sixteen propositions of conflict
through functions
Thought that conflict= boundaries
between different groupsпѓ unity
between individual members of that
group and determines boundaries of
power
Ralf Dahrendorf (1929- )
Social order is maintained by force from
the top
пЃ¬ Tension is constant
пЃ¬ Extreme social change can happen at any
time
 “there cannot be conflict unless some
degreee of consensus has already been
established” (p. 89)
пЃ¬ Once reached, conflict temporarily
disappears
пЃ¬
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
Work centered around power
пЃ¬ Several dimensions of inequality (like
Weber)
пЃ¬ Power can be independent from economic
class
 Version of conflict theory-closer to Weber’s
than Marx
пЃ¬
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
1.
2.
3.
пЃ¬
Concept of power elite, rather than ruling
class=difference between Marx and Mills
There is a triangle of power:
Military
Industry
Politics
White-collar world kept power elite on top
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
There are three types of power:
1. Authority: power justified by the beliefs of
the voluntarily obedient
2. Manipulation: power wielded unknown to
the powerless
3. Coercion: the “final” form of power, where
the powerless are forced to obey the
powerful
пЃ¬
Randall Collins (1941- )
“power and status are fundamental
relational dimensions at the micro level of
social interaction and perhaps at the
macro level as well” (p. 96)
пЃ¬ Collins believes there are certain goods
that every group wants to pursue
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
пЃ¬
Wealth, power, and prestige
“Concluded that coercion and the ability to
“force” others to behave a certain way are
the primary basis of conflict” (p.96)
Randall Collins (1941- )
пЃ¬
Had a stratified
approach to conflict
that had 3 basic
principles and 5
principles of conflict
analysis
Individual
actions
Social
Structure
Relevancy
Maintains that what social order does, is
the result of power elites’ coercion of
masses
пЃ¬ Those without power seek social change
пЃ¬ Two class system by Marx
 Contemporary conflict theorists don’t limit
power to just economics, but also look at
other issues
пЃ¬
Relevancy (cont’d)
пЃ¬
1.
2.
3.
Three criticisms of conflict theory:
Ignores other ways (i.e. non-forceful
ways in which people reach agreements
Sides with people who lack power
Focuses on economic factors as the sole
issue for all conflict in society
пЃ¬
This primarily is for Marx’s approach
Relevancy (cont’d)
Differences in power are in all types of
interaction
 Power used to be physical, but now, it’s
legal and economic
пЃ¬
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