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What are the strengths and weakness of the conflict perspective in Sociology? Illustrate how the conflict perspective can be applied to the study of a named social institution in society.

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Introduction

What are the strengths and weakness of the conflict perspective in Sociology? Illustrate how the conflict perspective can be applied to the study of a named social institution in society. 'Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion-when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing- when you see that money is flowing to those that deal, not in goods, but in favors -when you see that men get richer by graft and pull tan by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you- when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice- you may know that your society is domed.' Ayn Rand (from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal) Sociology as defined by Giddens (1986) "is a social science, having as its main focus the study of the social institutions brought into being by the industrial transformations of the past two or three centuries'. There are three main perspectives used for studying sociology. The functualist perspective which views society as working together , with cohesion and integration. The conflict theory, which emphasizes the conflict between different groups in society, focusing on domination, oppression, exploitation. Both of these perspectives study society on a macro level, with man being passive to society. ...read more.

Middle

Miliband argued that the politicians, head civil servants, judges etc are far removed from the proletariat and are motivated and promoted by their attachment to the ruling classes. Hence the exploitation of the proletariat, as the corporations lobby politicians on reducing workers rights, increasing their hours and even setting a minimum wage. Capitalist are portrayed as unable to compete in the global market, because of rules and restrictions imposed on them by the trade unions and government. To take the conflict theory to another level we can observe the globalization of the world economy. In the recent World trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, talks broke down as the world 's poorer economies refused to participate on the grounds that the existing trade treaties exploited their economies. Here we have the IMF(International Monetary Fund), influenced by the richer countries, agreeing to help these third world developing countries, on the basis that they would privatize their economies and allow multinational corporation to run their financial institutions. Therefore, the capitalists of the Western World retain their dominance, because as they run these institutions they have economic power in that country and they can exploit the cheap labour and resources of that country. The weakness of the conflict theory is that it underestimates the level at to which society will co-operate. As Durkheim observed society reifies itself and will conform. ...read more.

Conclusion

The government enforces a national curriculum which states as its aim to modify the curriculum to meet the demands of the employers. The child is disciplined and rewarded on the basis of behaviour of which the school deems as desirable. They argue that the education system does not acheive equality. The conflict perspective sees the education system as further enforcing the existing social system. The differences are even more visible when it comes to tertiary education, where the financial position of the family determines whether a child goes on to further education. Even with free tuition fees, etc, the child still has to provide for itself and could become a financial burden on the family unit, as opposed to its wealthier colleagues whose family can support its tertiary education. This furthers the financial divide as those that go on to further education gain more specialized skills and therefore can demand a higher salary. .. The conflict theory shows a different perspective on society and balances the functionalist view of society moving forward in integration. The perspective identifies the differences between the classes, and how these conflicts drive society. It highlights the dominance of the ruling elite over the labour force. We see how the education system upholds the values and belief of the ruling elite. We can see how this exploitation does not only start in the workforce, but is consciously installed from the pre-school years. By acknowledging these conflicts, society can then readjust itself to cater for the needs of its members. ...read more.

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