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Conflict theories.docx

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Western University
Sociology 2259
Pamela Cushing

Conflict theories • Focus on the Underdog. More openly than interpretive theories • What produces underdogs? - Capitalism via exploitation • Look at globalization, look at issues, who are we going to help in this world? Who will we intervene on behalf of. • Deviance, poverty, greed, disadvantage, injustice ... are systematic and structural • Try to expose the systems and structures that do the exploitation. Rules 1) Rules are made by the powerful whether they are legal or customary. - we are equally not allowed to steal, live under a bridge or sleep on a park bench. However, they are not equal in how they affect people. 2) Rules are part of a system that preserves the preferred way of life for the powerful (VERY different from the social contract – greatest good for the greatest number. This theory argues the opposite) 3) People who break the rules do so out of need or protest against a system that oppresses them (example homeless person sleeps on street instead of shelter – does not feel safe there, not welcome due to mental illness or substance abuse) Deviance is not about sick people, or under control, it is about people who are attempting to make the best out of unequal opportunities. Emphasis of this theory is on Formal Social Control (Law, justice system, different forms of punishment) This is a macro approach. Looking at bigger issues. Conception of Social Order: social order is maintained through management of conflict between various groups Concept of Society: Divided into various groups with competing interests Dominant Group: The one with the most power and authority Conflict theories share 7 propositions: 1) Power is the most important explanatory variable. 2) Groups with clashing interests, values and unequal resources compete – producing winners and losers 3) Groups struggle to have their own definitions of right and wrong established as part of the status quo (For example struggle of gun control laws.) (think of Moral entrepreneurs) (another example abortion control – making their beliefs better or more right than yours) 4) Definitions of crime and regulations are weapons in the struggle b/w groups for a share in the power system 5) Deviance is neither normal nor inevitable (people are deviant because of problems in society – THE OPPOSITE of functionalism) 6) The source of deviance does not reside in the body or mind – but rather in the unequal relationships between people. 7) Critical theories are involved in a long term process of building grassroots resistance to transform existing structures and ideologies of domination and inequality Praxis – to combine knowledge gained by science research with activism. “You should not separate what is from what ought to be” - thats where you get praxis. There should be activism involved. Prof says this is the basis of SJP, - research and then active work to make change Public sociologist – most famous – C. Wright Mills. - Taught at columbia, rode a motorcycle. Hated his peers. They would take research money from government or big business. He wanted to make a difference and change people's lives. Praxiological research is geared at the analysis, exposure and resistance to oppressive social structures and systems Praxiological social scientists should be studying the REAL nature of society and expose its strucures of domination and lift what is called the veil of False Consciousness False consciousness – people don't realize true reality. For example fish living in dirty water, they do not know the water is dirty. This is connected to hedgemonic power. Marxist Conflict Theories ⁃ all deviance stems from alienation. Perception of the individual: The individual is a product of the material conditions of existence Marx theory of alienation 1) alienation of the worker from the product (you do not have control over the product or finished product – this is up to the owner of the company) 2) Alienation of the worker from working ( your position is more trivial, it is meaningless no satisfaction in their work) 3) Alienation of the worker from himself (species being) – it is a human thing. People need to use their imaginations, be creative. We need to feel purposeful. Innate potential to develop. There is a lack of control over your work and time. 4) Alienation of the worker from other workers. There is no social relationship. Now it is competitive. The masses of society are workers. Alienation creates deviance. Social Inequality Is inevitable in a capitalist society capitalism breeds crime crime and deviance are a response to an unjust society Marxism and Deviance: Willem Bonger Capitalism creates harmful deviance because it makes everyone in the system selfish Only by taking the means of production out of the hands of a few and distributing resources based on need will structural based, greed driven deviance be eliminated what would be left is a small residue of psychopathic forms of deviance he did not think women commit as much crime basically because they are less than men. Neo-marxist critical theory: Frankfurt school Frankfurt Germany – 1920s Moved to New york due to hitler era. Studied false consciousness. And how that was a part of Hitler's Germany. Studied marx as well. Why didn't the revolution that marx predicted come to fruition Marx was right about the serious internal contradictions of capitalism... what he underestimated was the extent to which false consciousness could be fostered and exploited. Frankfurt school really rejected positivism,
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