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What is Conflict Perspective?

Geeta Dhavale Nov 3, 2018
Conflict perspective in sociology looks at society as divided in various social groups that are constantly contradicting and competing with each other over various resources. Here's an explaination in detail.
Man's struggle for power is eternal. Be it family or work place, play group or politics, man wants to achieve the higher and authoritative position. It starts from personal level to national level. There are various groups and communities of people in society belonging to different classes, religions, and ideologies.
All of them have different perspectives and values. The clash between these various perspectives leads to conflict between these groups. It influences the distribution of power, wealth, prestige, etc. Social conflict perspective is all about the differences between social groups in the society.

What is It?

Conflict perspective, also called conflict theory, is essentially based on the Karl Marx's thoughts on class struggle. According to his theory, the society is divided in two groups, namely haves  and have nots,  that is, rich and poor.
The rich people are powerful because they control resources and poor people are powerless as they are at the receiving ends and have to live as per the whims and fancies of rich people. It is macro level perspective that emphasizes on competition between different groups for scarce resources, including prestige and wealth.
The groups of people can be divided on the grounds of sex, race, and cultural, political, and economical background. This is one of the social science theories which believe that conflict is mandatory and also one of the most important values in the society for its existence.
The conflict is also very important in order to bring social changes and revolution, as it challenges the status quo. If there are no conflicts in the society then it will come to a stand still, won't grow, and won't bring any change in the lives of human beings.
This theory observes that different groups have different values and agendas, and they are always competing with each other to achieve their goals and agendas. This argumentative nature of groups forms the ever changing nature of the society.
In today's world, the power is calculated in terms of money. The more rich you are the more power you have. It is the rich people who control the resources and they are the ones who steer public opinion for their benefit.
According to this theory, societal norms that are considered essential to hold the society together are biased. They are actually imposed by dominant and powerful people through artificial consensus.

The Perspective on Family

Family is one of the important social institutions. Every social perspective has its own perspective on family as a social institution. According to the interaction theory, it is the family where a person forms his values and ideologies in the initial stages of life.
Another social theory known as functionalism theory, looks at family as the basic unit of society which gives the sense of belonging to people. The perspective has a different take on the family relationships. This society looks at family as miniature class society where dominant groups oppress the weaker sections.
For example, in the family, men tend to dominate the family as they earn and control economy of the house. Women after marriage have to live with their husbands and deal accordingly as it is an age-old practice where they are subjected to oppression. The kids have to listen to parents as they are more skilled and their authority is justified by the society.
Parents always have an edge over their children only because they are parents. Children do not have absolute freedom in this situation. Such situations lead to conflict in the family. Sometimes there are fights in the family between husband and wife, or parents and children that is necessary to bring the social change.
It is criticized by a lot of sociologists, saying that it is over negative and cannot address social harmony and cohesion effectively. It also fails to look at micro level phenomena and generalizes things to the extreme points.