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Conflict Theory -- Research Starters Sociology

By: Kretchmar, Jennifer;

2009 / EBSCO


Conflict theory has both modern and classical roots; most recently, it developed in the late twentieth century in response structural functionalism. It is also, however, defined by the work of Karl Marx, a nineteenth century philosopher and revolutionary. Conflict theories - which emphasize class struggle and change - are often pitted against consensus theories, which emphasize social stability and shared norms. The following will summarize Talcott Parson's consensus theory known as structural functionalism, and the conflict theories of Ralf Dahrendorf and Randall Collins. The work of Karl Marx will be introduced as well. Even though consensus and conflict theories are often presented as opposing viewpoints, many theorists believe they are complementary. Some even suggest they should be integrated into a single theory. These viewpoints will be discussed as well.