This chapter was an interesting start to sociology for me because I wasn’t fully aware of what sociology was about and its impact on the world today. It’s interesting to learn about the perspectives and the history of sociology and how it was all started. The perspective that jumped out at me the most and was interesting was the conflict theory. I personally believe that the conflict theory can be identified today and be related to our culture and society that is currently around us.
“The conflict theory looks at society as a competition for limited resources” (Openstax,2016, p.22). This idea that conflict theory looks at society as a competition for limited resources makes me agree that our society is very similar to this today. I say this because each individual is trying to gain access to limited resources such as education, a career, or even an opportunity in life to help them become more successful to make more money. Karl Marx believed that individual people were in different social classes and these social classes compete for social, material, and political resources. These resources can be, “housing and food, employment, education, and leisure time” (Openstax, 2016, p. 22). Marx believed that some of these competitors are able to have more access to these resources and be able to keep them. These competitors are looked at as the “winners” and they “use their power and influence to maintain social institutions” (Openstax, 2016, p. 22). Marx ideas can be noticed in our society today through the lower, middle, and higher classes. The higher class in our society would be known as the “winners” in accomplishing gaining these resources to be more successful in their lives. Other theorists followed Marx’s ideas and expanded more his concepts such as Ludwig Gumplowicz and Marx Weber.
Polish-Austrian sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz looked up to Marx and his ideas and had expanded Marx’s ideas except looking at war. Gumplowicz said that war is a basis of civilizations. Gumplowicz believed that “cultural and ethnic conflicts led to states being identified and defined by a dominant group that had power over the groups (Irving 2007). This idea is interesting to look at because it does say a lot about how wars can show the higher gain of resources to help them become more successful as a society and winning wars against other countries. Another sociologist that further expanded on Marx’s ideas was Max Weber. Weber, however, believed that inequalities of political power and social structure is the cause of conflict (Openstax, 2016, p. 22). These different groups were different based on things such as education, race, and gender (Openstax, 2016, p. 23). These differences helped create these social classes and creating diversity between the social groups. It’s interesting to think that each social class is developed based on these differences but it may not be completely true. Some people are put into different social classes because of consequences of life but I am sure some people are put into these classes because of these differences. These three men have helped influence the conflict theory and have brought other sociologist together to come up with other ideas on how social classes are developed and their impact on a society.
The conflict theory is prominent in society today by looking at how each social class is developed, the variety of people that are in each social class, and how those people in that class are similar to one another. The first chapter is a great introduction to sociology and what concepts are important to gain to fully understand what sociology is.