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Conflict theory emphasizes on the power differentials in the society. The

experts who formulated this theory firmly believe on the social stratification
and they have shown their interests in two specific classes of people
especially the bourgeoisie and the proletariat which can be called the
classification of social class. Priority is given to meet some of the common
need more effectively than the other groups.

In the perspective of today’s society it is clearly evident that the power has
direct link with the property and wealth, which an individual possesses. These
elements in turn closely get associated with the education and the social
background. Tom Brownlee (2002) states that conflict theory is good at
highlighting the extent to which hidden barriers can exist within the social
structure of the society. In the later stages these hidden barriers (power
differentiations) makes inaccessible ways for the less powerful or poorer
groups of people in the society. As Dr. N.H.Groenman (1992) states conflict
theory points –sometimes rather comfortably-at inequalities in society
structure of advantage and relationships of the dominations and
subordination. It is observed that there is existence of various perspectives
within the conflict theory. Karl Marx provides the potential explanation of this
theory. He viewed this theory as a social status quo, where poorer class of
people in the society is greatly dominated comparing to the higher class of

In this case the conflict occurs as a result of limited resources and power
struggle or competition takes place within the society. The potentially wealthy
persons get access to all the opportunities and thereby possess the capacity
to control over the proletariat groups. Due to this domination and being ruled
by the higher group of people the rapid change in the society takes place and
only in this theory the struggle for power between different classes occur and
because of this power differentiation the power interests of different groups
are recognized. Power differentiation also plays the vital role for changing the


status of the individual and the society as a whole, as Tom Brownlee (2002)
states that society is dynamic and constantly changing. So precisely it can be
said, in the conflict theory the elite groups always possess the dominative
nature comparing to proletariat groups.

Through conflict it is seen that lower and middle classes of people feel
encouraged to be competitive and in a recent study it is observed that conflict
sociologists emphasise the conflicts in society ( between social classes,
between man and woman and even between different ethnic groups) [online].
In the conflict theory there is the existence of the many shared values. It is
also stated that conflict theory builds upon Marxist analysis of class conflict.

Due to power differentiation in the society by the bourgeoisies the lower and
middle class of people get deprived of life chances so called the basic needs.
The medicine and general health service generally do not show many
interests to the proletariat group, whereas this service becomes more
accessible for the capitalists class. Study shows that the individuals’ health is
greatly influenced by the many factors like social, economic and cultural which
eventually lead to health differentials. As a result the individual’s health get
badly affected. The hierarchy is created within the society as a result of
structural inequality and this inequality leads poorer to have their life changed,
for instance let’s say health status.

Tom Brownlee (2002) states that the higher a person is on a social

stratification hierarchy the greater their life chances. So considering the health
issues in the proletariat groups where the inequality in the provision of health
care becomes evident. Sweeney and et al (2003) states that the approaches
to the debate surrounding health, illness and institution of medicine are
located within a wider critique of the capitalist society. In the neo Marxist
approach it is noted that the capitalists are given more importance by the
medical professional , which makes other people to get deprived of from the
provision of health care. It is seen that the elite groups seem to be attracting
the notices of the manufacturers or various marketing companies. On the


other hand the less powerful people are deprived of the opportunities in the


It is believed that the rich people have better and capacity to buy all kinds of
food no matter the cost, whereas the poorer group of people need to think
before spends. As a result the richer people can consume much than the
poorer people. So the fat people who are rich are prone to develop diabetes
comparing to the thin people. It is simply because that they spent much for
their food, and gradually tends to become obese which in turn becomes one
of the precursors of the diabetes. More over the rich people have the
sedentary life style and does less strenuous activity to keep the body fit.
Bloomberg (online) states that obese people employed in professional jobs
had just as much difficulty breaking down the sugar collecting in their blood as
those in manual jobs, the study of almost 1,300 woman and men in European
countries found.

Out of this group the proportion of richer group is higher to be affected than
poorer group of population. Because of sedentary life style and possession of
wealth and power these group of population have drawn the almost entire
attention of the medical fields, like pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.
In conflict theory we have seen that it draws the attention of the higher class
than the lower class of population and in every sector it is proven to be



Feminism theory is totally based on inequalities in gender differentiations (i.e.

between man and woman). Feminism theory particularly shows how the
inequalities exist in terms of occupation, work, education, politics and health
benefits etc. This theory shows the clear evidence of social stratification in
terms of gender differentiation. There are many issues concerns with this, for
example in case of industrilialisation where man gets more benefit and shifts
to work and earn whereas the woman are deprived of the opportunities, so
woman are significantly affected. Anne et al (2002) states that industrialisation
impacted specifically upon women, compared to men.

Feminism theory also involves the equal rights of both the sexes. It also
describes how the females suffer from discrimination because of their sex,
male domination of the personal and also in public life and unequal access to
the profession and politics. It shows how men denied women by the social
power of men. Shaun (2003) states that men were responsible for oppression
and subordination at both the institutional level and at the level of ideas. There
are manifold needs associated with feminism theory for example; it helped to
raise the gender issues, dominance of male stream society and to balance the
societal issues. The feminism theory solely concerns about the values of
females in the society as Shaun 92003) states that feminism is a moral and
social enterprise concerned with issues of values and creating a political
framework for the human condition. This theory helps us to understand the
social world in general and the health and illness in particular. It describes the
gender relation on the basis of the inequalities has been structured in the
society and specifically it focuses on patriarchy, the rule of man over the
woman.; and how the women are subordinated by the man in the society.
Though this theory is good at highlighting the issues of women in the society
but still there seems to be lying some weaknesses in it as D.Hogg (2008)
states that feminist theory may overlook the oppression and exploitation of


But over all it gave voice to woman, which is one of the greatest strength of
women in terms of feminist theory.

SOCIAL FACTORS: Inequality at work

Feminism theory describes the gender differentiation and especially it focuses

the role of female gender in the modern society. Gender inequality can play a
vital role in eradicating poverty from the society. In many places the inequality
at work exists. It is found that the Fawcett Society campaigns for women’s
equality in Britain. Martyn (2005) states that women are failed by criminal
justice system that has been designed principally by men and remains
principally for men. There are many factors which are closely associated with
this inequality and these are cultural discrimination against women and sexual
harassment and even in terms of payment they are deprived too comparing to
men. Fawcett Society (2008) states that Women working full-time are paid on
average 17% less an hour than men (or 36% less if they work part-time) and
96% of executive directors of the UK's top 100 companies are men.


Anne, Barry Marie & Yuill Chris (2003): Understanding Health, A Sociological
Introduction, 1st Ed, London, Sage Publications. P.15

B.Shaun (2003): A Beginner’s Guide to Social Theory, 1st ed.London. P, 148

D.Hogg (2007): Sociological Theories, p.12

Dr. N.H. Groenman, Dr. O D’S Slevin, M.A .Buckenham (1992). Social and

Behavioural Sciences for Nurses 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Campion Press. p.260

Martyn Denscombe: Sociology Update 2005, p.20


Tom Brownlee (2002): Behavioural Science in Healthcare, Unit Number D88V

04, Section 4, p.72

Sweeney, T, Lewis & Etherington, N (Eds) (2003) Sociology and Scotland: An

Introduction Unit Publication. p.311
Bloomberg 2008, London (Online): available on,
accessed on March 11th 2008.
The Fawcett Society2008, London (online) available on, accessed on March 11th 2008.