History has always been fueled by conflict. History books are filled with conflicts of the have and have-nots. For example look at the early history of America, it was a fight between the oppressed colonists and the aristocratic British. Our independence was gained over a conflict.
Most of the change that has occurred over time has usually come out of conflict. In sociology one would call this conflict perspective. Schaefer and Lamm define conflict perspective as a sociological approach which assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of conflict or tension. We see society constantly struggling within itself. I ve used the American Revolution as an example of conflict however, not all conflict need be in the form of war and riot. Conflict arises in many forms of communication whether it be argument, debate, or even labor negotiations.
There have been many proponents of social conflict perspective, none better known however, than Karl Marx. Karl Marx was the leader in learning and understanding how conflict fueled our society and usually changed it for the better. His argument concerned the bourgeois and the proletarians, or in other words the oppressor and the oppressed. He believed that this class struggle existed around the time of the industrial revolution. He saw how the workers were being treated and knew that the exploited would eventually overthrow their exploiters. However a new class of exploiters would arise thus continuing the cycle.
Although Marx has invariably shaped our views of conflict theory it should be noted that there are some differences. Marx believed that after the struggle life would become almost a utopia without conflict. Conflict sociologists believe change and conflict occur all the time and always will occur and that changes that take place may be positive. They also believe people to be easily shaped by authority, coercion, and power. It should also be noted that conflict sociologists use a macro-level approach. In other words they study large groups of people for instance, Caucasians and African-Americans.
After reading and learning about the three basic sociological theories, conflict, functionalist, and interaction ist. I would have to say that conflict seems to be the most logical, especially looking at our past. True, conflict might not always prove good with the early consequences but the end results can be quite promising. Just to name a few, the American Revolution, civil rights movement, early labor strikes. All of these in the end have given birth to something positive. Freedom, equality, an honest pay for an honest days work, respectfully.
I agree with so many of the conflict sociologists ideas, for example people acting differently in front of authority. How true is this, I for one know I act differently in front of different groups. Whether it be my friends, boss, teacher, or family. It s not intentional it is just something that happens on a sub conscious level I suppose. I for one believe we will never rid our lives of conflict and I believe that to be a good thing.
For the bit of tension it brings about the changes are almost always needed.