Macro Sociological Perspectives

844 Words Oct 2nd, 2010 4 Pages
The conflict perspective views society less as a cohesive system and more as an arena of conflict and power struggles. Compare and contrast the main tenets of the functionalist and conflict perspectives.

“The conflict perspective views society less as a cohesive system and more as an arena of conflict and power struggles”. This perspective was founded by sociologist Karl Marx (1818-1883) and serves to introduce the concept that “inequality and specifically inequality under capitalism” exists between two main “classes” in society namely the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The functionalist perspective – another major sociological theory – was founded by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) and also includes contributions by Herbert Spencer
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The expected patterns of behaviour are imposed on the individual through the socialisation process. According to Durkheim, “Social facts” are “ways of acting, thinking and feeling, existing outside the individual”. Parsons believed that a social system must fulfil four prerequisites in order for it to function. These are Adaptation, Goal Attainment, Integration and Latency. Similarly, the conflict perspective seeks to explain change in society. This concept, however, highlights a Capitalist view, where two “classes” exist in society namely the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie. The founder of the conflict perspective, Karl Marx, believed that social change can only be attained through conflict that will arise once the working class or proletariat realised the state of “false consciousness” that they were subject to by the bourgeoisie and developed a state of “class consciousness” which recognises that all individuals within a society are equal. Thus, the inequalities that exist with respect to the distribution of wealth, power and the resources will now be eliminated since “classes” will no longer exist. “Marx saw conflict relations as being characterised by conflict in intergroup relations, borne out of the relationship between the forces of production and the relations of production. Conflict between these two processes in Marx’s view, provided the catalyst for social
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