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Conflict Theory: Randall Collins
Transcript of Conflict Theory: Randall Collins
emphasize the dominance of some social groups by others, see social order as based on manipulation and control by dominant groups, and view social change as occurring rapidly and in a disorderly fashion as subordinate groups overthrow dominant groups
Alternatively, conflict theory refers to competing interests present in society
Conflict theorists believe in struggle for resources between groups
Conflict theory can appear in many different forms
Randall Collins wanted to take a micro-level direction, and especially wanted to touch on stratification and organization
Collins focused on conflict as a central process in life
Conflict at an individual level Social structures are inseparable from the actors; creating social organization
Marxian theory as a “starting point”
Collins criticizes the great theories of stratification (Marx and Weber)
Collins, Weber and phenomenology
Collins used Marx and Weber as underpinnings of his work
Collins believed that Marxian principles can provide the basis for conflict theory of stratification:
Material conditions involved in earning a living is a major determinant of a person’s lifestyle
Material conditions affect the nature of social groups in different social classes
Differences among social classes in their access to, and control over, the cultural system
Weber had an influence on Collins conceptualization of conflict theory A Conflict theory of Stratification proposed by Randall Collins
Collins proposes several assumptions:
People are inherently sociable, and conflict-prone
People seek to maximize their “subjective status”
People are self-interested
This conflict approach to stratification can be reduced to three basic principles:
1. Self-constructed subjective worlds
2. Others controlling individual’s subjective experience
3. Others control individual’s who oppose them Collins developed 5 principles of conflict analysis that he applied to social stratification:
1. He believed that conflict theory must focus on real life rather than on abstract formulations
Reflects a Marxian-style material analysis
People are animals who seek to obtain various advantages to achieve satisfaction
People are not wholly rational, and are vulnerable to emotional appeals
2. Collins believed that a conflict theory of stratification must examine the material arrangements that affect interaction
Actors are likely to be affected by material factors, but not in the same way
A major variable is the different resources actors posses
Actors with considerable material can resist or modify these material constraints, but those with fewer materials are determined by material settings
3. Collins argues that in a situation of inequality, those groups that control resources are likely to try to exploit those that lack resources
Exploitation need not include conscious calculation
Exploiters are pursuing their best interests
Exploiters take advantage of those who lack resources 4. Collins wanted the conflict theorist to look at such cultural phenomena as beliefs and ideals from the point of interests, resources, and power
Those with power can impose their idea systems
Those without power have ideas imposed on them
5. Collins made a firm commitment to the scientific study of stratification and every other aspect of the social world
Collins prescribed to several things Collins’ conflict sociology:
Giving and taking orders
The more one gives to orders, the more satisfied
The more one takes orders, the more one is socially disturbed
All in all, Collins was an advocate of the scientific study of small-scale social manifestations of social conflicts Major Ideas, Concepts & Themes Collins extended stratification to other social domains (sexes and age groups)
E.g., the family and male dominance
E.g., adult dominance over younger age group
Formal organizations are “arenas of struggle”
Coercion leads to avoidance of being coerced
Offering rewards is a preferable strategy
Collins is comparable to Dahrendorf
Collins provides a more integrative approach Relevance of Theory Today Application of the theory
Dominant group examples:
Subordinate group examples:
When it comes to criminal punishment,
Groups do not hold the same values or beliefs
Dominate groups seem to determine aspects of the law
However, subordinate groups are ostracized
Criminal punishment shows coercion of dominant group
For example, this is shown in the film by Michael Moore Relevance of Theory Today Academic Application
Multinational Corporations & Local Communites
Faculty Promotion and Tenure
Due to hierarchical systems
Real World Application
Can be applied to Capitalism
Power assertion can be physical, legal and economic
Continues to be class inequality
Conflict theory can have further applications
Conflict theory and Structural Functionalism could be integrated
Conflict (negative) can have positive results such as:
Conflict can solidify a loosely structured group
Conflict with one group can lead to alliances with another Critique Conflict can bring isolated passive citizens into an active role
Conflict increases communication
Conflict theory over represents the functions of conflict and fails to emphasize the dysfunction conflict induces Critique Collins ' theory states:
Violent conflict doesn't come easily or automatically
Only a small number of people are capable of being violent
How can this be true with the surge of violence in society?
Is Collins' research still accurate as society becomes more violent? Critique Critique Collins' didn't actually explain a universal scientific method
Material resources influence both dominant and subordinate class
Collin's rejects some micro levels of analysis that are important
Ruling class is not always at an advantage Conflict theory ignores order and stability.
Conflict theory has been criticized for being ideologically radical
Conflict theory is underdeveloped in comparison to other theories The Individuals that will be mentioned in this Presentation are:
-Randall Collins (emphasis on this theorist) Background of Theory and Theorist Background of Theory and Theorist Background of Theory and Theorist Background of Theory and Theorist Karl Marx
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher and economist, who was not a self-proclaimed sociologist.
Although Marx did not consider himself a sociologist, he had a profound impact on historical and contemporary sociological thought.
He is considered to be one of the founders of Sociology
Discussed about the Elite class and the Working class
The Capitalist class owns and controls the means of production, while they also see the distribution of the goods or services.
The Capitalist class is also known as the dominant group.
His second class, the working class, are the people who provide the labor necessary to produce the goods and services. Max Weber
(1864-1920) was a German sociologist and scientist who also had a profound impact on sociology.
Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as one of the three founding architects of sociology.
Weber argues that there are many "status" groups in a society which possess varying degrees of social power.
So according to Weber there are many groups, unlike Marx who believed there were two groups, the capitalist and the working group.
Weber believed that power played a role in:
politics, ethnicity, gender, religion. Ralf Dahrendorf
1 May 1929 -17 June 2009
was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, political scientist and liberal politician.
Dahrendorf was a leading expert on class divisions in modern society, and has been described as "one of the most influential thinkers of his generation".
Dahrendorf's most influential work on social inequality is:
Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society, which was published in 1959.
This book presents his first detailed account of the problem of inequality in modern, or post-capitalist societies. Darendorf Criticizes the Two founders Karl Marx and Max Weber By saying:
Neither structural functionalism nor Marxism alone provides an acceptable perspective on advanced society.
He claims that structural functionalists pay too little attention to the realities of social conflict and that Marx defined class too narrowly and in a historically-specific context
He believes that the struggle for authority creates conflict.
Dahrendorf's theory defined class not in terms of wealth like Marx, but by levels of authority.
Dahrendorf combines elements from both of the perspectives talked about to develop his own theory about class conflict in postcapitalist society. Randall Collins
Born 1941,Knoxville, Tennessee Is an American sociologist.
In his studies he focused greatly on Social Conflict Theory (especially violent conflict)
He is a leading contemporary social theorist whose areas of expertise include:
The macro-historical sociology of political and economic change
Micro-sociology, including face-to-face interaction
and, the sociology of intellectuals and social conflict. Application can be in terms of past and present
Further research of conflict theory
Conflict theory has a wide range of application
E.g., Macro level
E.g., Micro Level
A Love Story
GM lay offs
Collins' theory of conflict still applied in our society