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.

Authors Avatar

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. The

interpretive perspective focuses on a micro level, the small scale interaction between

individuals and groups. I will be illustrating the strength of the conflict theory and how

Marx’s observations are still valid in today’s society, and will also point out the weakness

of the conflict perspective as society has evolved. I will also be addressing how the

conflict perspective is relevant in the modern day education system.

The conflict perspective originated from Karl Marx (1818-1883), who in the19th century

observed the massive changes in society due to the Industrial Revolution. Marx observed

that as opposed to Durkheim’s functualist theory of society working in harmonious

union, the conflict of various groups was in fact the moving force in society, with the

economic structure being the basis of the separation of the groups in society.  Some

groups of society were accumulating wealth and power at the expense of others, and

Join now!

society was set up in favour of those with economic power.  Marx saw society as

consisting of two main classes, the ruling elite (the capitalists) and the working classes

(the proletariat).  Marx saw society as struggle between different groups each with a

different interest or goal. Change  would come through conflict, political, legal and  

economic. He saw this struggle resulting in a communist system, which he regarded as

the ideal for society. However before these changes were to take place the masses would

have to become aware ...

This is a preview of the whole essay