Class and the Social Structure: Unmasking Conflict

Published: 2021-07-02
857 words
4 pages
8 min to read
University of Richmond
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The presence of different social classes is the source of continuous inevitable conflict (Karl Marx, 1867). Society is divided into various classes which are in constant competition over the available scarce resources or ideologies. Social order is thus maintained by domination and power, as opposed to consensus and conformity. What is brought out in these instances is the presence of a ruling and a ruled class? The one that is ruled more often feel disadvantaged and strive to improve their status while the ruling class wishes to continue enjoying their privileges leading to tension. These conflicts become the engine to social change through; uprisings, revolutions, strikes protests, and the like.

Categories of conflicts.

The theory of conflict can be categorized further to conflicts over the distribution of desirables, conflict of authority, the conflict between individual and society, and conflict of ideology.

Conflict over the distribution of desirables

When the resources in society are unevenly distributed, there will always be drift. This will result into two groups; those with access to these resources and those with limited to no access to the resources. Looking at the education system in almost all societies around the world, higher education is more expensive to essential. The poor are thus faced out of receiving the training not because they cant compete but just because they cannot afford. The rich will then receive this education and training thus realizing better-paying jobs keeping their privileged status while the poor get minimal training, land primary jobs and maintain their status as well. Those with access are in constant measure to prevent them while those without are striving to acquire the same status. This may at the time lead to uprisings and protests as witnessed in the United States during the Occupy Wall Street campaign.

Conflict of authority

Society exists under a system of power to maintain order and without which no organization would exist. These, however, results in a group that governs and that that is regulated. Those that govern usually enjoy privileges and are times subject to special treatment at the expense of the ruled.

Taking the instance of a democratic state, the citizens often the governed will elect officials to represent them in government. They will gather resources regarding taxes which would go into facilitating the privileges extended to the officials ranging from security to expensive lifestyle. It reaches a point where the ruled feel that they are not being stepped on and would want to replace them. The ruling as expected would also wish to retain their positions and would go to various extends to maintain this. This tension is widely experienced over various forms of government mainly democratic and can be felt vividly as states approach elections.

Conflict of ideology and values

The combined effect of innovation and technological revolution, the generation gap, new value-orientations, sexual revolution, environmental crisis and the abandoning of the normative structural behavior are a series of conflicts that have manifested in various social movements and individual identity crisis. Leading in conflicts of ideology is religion. Faith has been a major differentiating factor among societies; with members of a certain sect believing that what they believe in is the truth and everyone else is wrong. If exposed to radicalism, members tend to reach various extends to defend and sometimes impose theirs believes on others.

Conflict between the individual and society

Sometimes what is accepted by society is not good for the individual. There is always a fundamental conflict between what the society expects from an individual and what the individual want for themselves. In traditional African societies, the women are scheduled to be toned down and execute their male counterparts instructions. Their job was to sit at home and give birth (Olupona, J. 1991). However, with time the lady was empowered, and now she wants to be part of decision making, she intends to be in control of her life and not live in the shadows of another. This will always cause misunderstanding. Deviating from the norm is a recipe for conflict with society and struggles are paramount before it is accepted by the constituents of the community.


It is evident that society is in constant conflict as a driver of change and there will always be a matter of contention in whatever context or setting we might be in. More information needs to be sort after in matters relating to how we can be able to deal with these situations. Further study can also be done to realize lesser effects of these conflicts aimed at avoiding extremes.


Marx, K. (1867). Das Kapital: kritik der politischen okonomie. Verlag von Otto Meisner, Germany, 1885, 1894.

Marx, K. (1982). Selections from The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, The German Ideology, The Poverty of Philosophy, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy,Value, Price, and Profit, and Capital, vols. 1 and 2. In Classes, Power, and Conflict (pp. 12-39). Macmillan Education UK.

Olupona, J. K. (Ed.). (1991). African Traditional Religions: in Contemporary Society. Paragon House.Yan, J., & Sorenson, R. L. (2004). The influence of Confucian ideology on conflict in Chinese family business. International journal of cross cultural management, 4(1), 5-17.

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