Conflict Perspective On Social Stratification Essay

Conflict Theory Based On Stratification In The Social Class In Society

Discuss in detail the three (3) major assumptions of Conflict Theory. In light of these assumptions, how do conflict theorists view stratification based on social class in society. Include in your discussion 2 specific examples to support the conflict view.
I. Definition of conflict theory:
Conflict theory: this theory basically says that in society everyone functions to maximize their own benefits. Social/ political change, it is argued, is brought about due to this desire by groups to maximize their benefits.
Marxism and radical feminism are some examples of this theory.
III. The 3 major assumptions of conflict theory are:
a) Competition is at the heart of all social relationships (rather then consensus, individuals in society form relationships by competing - e.g. competing for jobs, for partners etc)
b) There are structural inequalities in all social structures. There is always some with more power then others, in other words. Those that benefit from a certain social structure want to maintain it.
c) Change is revolutionary not evolutionary. Change is a consequence of competition between social classes competing interests rather then adaption. So it's not because we adapt to new social systems that change occurs in society but because there are competing interests.
IV. Conflict theorists view stratification based on social class in society, as follows:
*This question calls for your opinion based on the above 3 presumptions. So note what I write here is merely my own opinion. Feel free to use as you like.
There will always be social classes because some will be more powerful than others. Those who are more powerful will want to maintain the status quo, and will be able to do so because they are more powerful. The ones who are not benefiting from this system (most likely also the ones less powerful) will want change in society. They will seek to change the social system, they may even revolt, and even if it is more subtle then an all out revolution change will be because there are competing social interests. Change will not happen because the...

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For centuries, sociologists have analyzed social stratification, its root causes, and its effects on society. Theorists Karl Marx and Max Weber disagreed about the nature of class, in particular. Other sociologists applied traditional frameworks to stratification.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx based his conflict theory on the idea that modern society has only two classes of people: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are the owners of the means of production: the factories, businesses, and equipment needed to produce wealth. The proletariat are the workers.

According to Marx, the bourgeoisie in capitalist societies exploit workers. The owners pay them enough to afford food and a place to live, and the workers, who do not realize they are being exploited, have a false consciousness, or a mistaken sense, that they are well off. They think they can count on their capitalist bosses to do what was best for them.

Marx foresaw a workers’ revolution. As the rich grew richer, Marx hypothesized that workers would develop a true class consciousness, or a sense of shared identity based on their common experience of exploitation by the bourgeoisie. The workers would unite and rise up in a global revolution. Once the dust settled after the revolution, the workers would then own the means of production, and the world would become communist. No one stratum would control the access to wealth. Everything would be owned equally by everyone.

Marx’s vision did not come true. As societies modernized and grew larger, the working classes became more educated, acquiring specific job skills and achieving the kind of financial well-being that Marx never thought possible. Instead of increased exploitation, they came under the protection of unions and labor laws. Skilled factory workers and tradespeople eventually began to earn salaries that were similar to, or in some instances greater than, their middle-class counterparts.

Max Weber

Max Weber took issue with Marx’s seemingly simplistic view of stratification. Weber argued that owning property, such as factories or equipment, is only part of what determines a person’s social class. Social class for Weber included power and prestige, in addition to property or wealth. People who run corporations without owning them still benefit from increased production and greater profits.

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