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According to Conflict Theory, society is: A struggle for dominance among competing social groups (classes, genders, races,

, religions, etc.). Society is held together by the power, authority, and coercion of dominant groups over subordinate groups. The most powerful members of dominant groups create the rules for success and opportunity in society, often denying subordinate groups success and opportunities and ensuring that the powerful continue to monopoli e power, privilege, and authority.

The primary cause of social problems, according to the conflict perspective, is the e!ploitation and oppression of some groups by others. Conflict theorists generally view oppression and ine"uality as wrong, whereas Structural#$unctionalists may see it as necessary for the smooth running and integration of society. Structural#$unctionalism and Conflict Theory therefore have different %A&'(# )*+(,TAT+),S but can lead to similar insights about ine"uality (li-e the idea that stereotypes and discrimination benefit dominant groups). Conflict theory sees social change as rapid, continuous, and inevitable as groups replace each other in the social hierarchy. .ar!/s 0Communist .anifesto:1 Capitalism causes ine"uality and oppression in society (but as 2rian noted, is an inevitable stage in societies/ progression to e"uality through socialism in .ar!/s view) Capitalism produces two groups 3 2ourgeoisie (who own the means of production) and 4roletariat (who don/t, and must sell their labor for wages) 2ecause of the need for accumulation of capital, the 2ourgeoisie must remain competitive by e!ploiting the wor-ers (a process in which the owner e!tract the 0surplus value,1 or profit, from the wor-ers) Surplus value 5 the difference between the value (price) of the product and the value of the labor needed to produce it (wages) 3 unless the capitalist e!tracts that surplus value from the wor-er, there is no 0e!ploitation1 2ecause the wor-er is e!ploited, s6he becomes a 0commodity,1 or a product, which for .ar! means anything used for the purpose of e!change (the wor-er has to sell him6herself and his6her labor) 7hen the wor-er is commodified and e!ploited, s6he becomes 0alienated1 3 estranged, isolated, disconnected 3 from the product and process of labor and from other wor-ers and humanity 8owever, industriali ation eventually creates the conditions for wor-ers to develop C&ASS C),SC+)'S,(SS 3 to reali e their common interests vs. the 2ourgeoisie and unite in revolution The 4roletariat, when they defeat the 2ourgeoisie (which .ar! sees as the necessary evolution of capitalist societies), will establish e"uality and common ownership of property (socialism) Society is constantly moving toward the Communist 'topia # +n contrast to Structural#$unctionalists, who argue that the most talented individuals occupy the highest positions, conflict theorists argue that dominant groups monopoli e positions of power, maintaining power from generation to generation and -eeping subordinate groups out. Also in contrast to Structural#$unctionalists, who argue that the most important positions in society are the best rewarded, conflict theorists argue that dominant groups get inordinate power to define which positions are socially rewarded. 8ighly#paid positions are not necessarily most important for society, they argue, but -eep power in the hands of the privileged and powerful.

Applications Education .c&eod/s 0Ain/t ,o .a-in/ +t1 is a good e!ample of conflict theory as applied to education. 8e argues that teachers treat lower#class -ids li-e less competent students, placing them in lower 0trac-s1 because they have generally had fewer opportunities to develop language, critical thin-ing, and social s-ills prior to entering school than middle and upper class -ids. 7hen placed in lower trac-s, lower# class -ids are trained for blue#collar 9obs by an emphasis on obedience and following rules rather than autonomy, higher#order thin-ing, and self#e!pression. They point out that while private schools are e!pensive and generally reserved for the upper classes, public schools, especially those that serve the poor, are underfunded, understaffed, and growing worse. Schools are also powerful agents of sociali ation that can be used as tools for one group to e!ert power over others 3 for e!ample, by demanding that all students learn (nglish, schools are ensuring that (nglish#spea-ers dominate students from non#(nglish spea-ing bac-grounds. .any conflict theorists argue, however, that schools can do little to reduce ine"uality without broader changes in society (e.g. creating a broader base of high#paying 9obs or e"uali ing disparities in the ta! base of communities). Crime *eiman/s 0The *ich :et *icher and the 4oor :et 4rison1 is a good e!ample of a conflict theory perspective on crime. Conflict theorists argue that both crime and the laws defining it are products of a struggle for power. They argue that a few powerful groups control the legislative process and that these groups outlaw behavior that threatens their interests. $or e!ample, laws prohibiting vagrancy, trespassing, and theft are said to be designed to protect the wealthy from attac-s by the poor. Although laws against such things as murder and rape are not so clearly in the interests of a single social class, the poor and powerless are much more li-ely than the wealthy to be arrested if they commit such crimes. Conflict theorists also see class and ethnic e!ploitation as a basic cause of many different -inds of crime. .uch of the high crime rate among the poor, they argue, is attributable to a lac- of legitimate opportunities for improving their economic condition. They would also be li-ely to point to racism as well as classism in the criminal 9ustice system, suggesting that crime will disappear only if ine"uality and e!ploitation in that system and in society at large are also eliminated. Sports Again, the conflict theorists would be li-ely to loo- at who 0ma-es it1 in sports through a lens of ine"uality. &i-e in Chambliss/ article, where he points out that -ids with more money get better coaching and access to more competitive environments (country clubs) than those without money, the conflict theorist would be concerned about ine"ualities and a lac- of e"ual opportunity for all athletes. &i-ewise, the conflict theorist would probably be critical of the commercialism pervading sports today, pointing out that athletes are not as socially valuable as, say, teachers but ma-e a lot more money. They also argue that athletes are e!ploited by corporate and university interests, thus becoming 0commodities1 and possibly becoming 0alienated1 from a sport they once loved. 2ecause sports is such a big#time business nowadays, conflict theorists would be concerned that college players in particular are being e!ploited by colleges and universities, who may give them scholarships but ma-e much more money off their talents than the players do. +n turn, colleges often 0use up1 players for their talents while investing little in their education. As above, the conflict theorist would point out that ine"uality in sports cannot be reduced unless changes first occur to lessen broader income ine"ualities and our commercial culture.