Conflict theory, proposed by Karl Marx, stated that society is in a continuous state of conflict over the competition for resources that are scarce. It also states that conformity is upheld through domination and power rather than consensus and conformity.
Marx's Conflict Theory
The theory attempted to explain why the society was money-oriented. Karl Marx stated that the conflicts in the society were a result of the scarcity of the resources which was why the rich tried to hold onto what they had even if it meant suppressing the poor. Marx had studied the conflict between the rich and poor classes over the control of resources. He had termed the rich as the Bourgeoisie who were the minority but wield a lot of power. They were the capitalists, landowners, and industrialists and they controlled the resources in the society. On the other hand, the Proletariat made up the majority of the population in society but they were oppressed. These individuals put in a lot of effort to create resources but they received little or none in return.
Marx was aware of the Bourgeoisie's flawed thinking and their belief that their wealth was private. The Bourgeoisie thought that they were rich because they were hardworking and educated while the poor were underprivileged because of their laziness and illiteracy. He dismissed this by trying to introduce a class consciousness to the Proletariat. He wanted the working class to rise up and topple the capitalist system.
Marx believed that a rise of the working class would help to avoid future conflict as a result of the uneven distribution of resources. To solve this, he proposed the introduction of socialism. In this system, everyone would get an equal share of resources which would lead to peace and stability.
Modern Examples of Conflict Theory
After the 2008 financial crisis, many protests occurred which showed the anger among Americans. Citizens had lost their savings and investments yet a bailout from the government only benefited the elite banks and individuals.
The difference in pay between men and women is also bringing conflict as the women feel shortchanged. Women workers are often overlooked and promotions are more likely to be given to men.
Racial tensions as a result of police killings expose the poor state of living that many African Americans are in. The lack of opportunities for African Americans has led many to move into and remain in lower-income neighborhoods known as ghettos.
The conflict in South Sudan today stems from the distribution of resources. The revenue from oil is bitterly contested among the elite. This struggle has made peace very elusive to date. South Sudan had split from Sudan for the same reasons as well. The North had discriminated the South in the allocation of resources and it led to the civil war that lasted 22 years.
Will These Conflicts End?
These conflicts will most likely not end anytime soon. The system that Karl Marx advocated in the past has not solved the problem. The chasm between the rich and poor is widening and the world is growing smaller due to technology. As long as the materialistic culture exists so will the competition for the scarce resources.