Social conflict and the theory of social change are essential concepts in sociology that help us understand how societies evolve and transform over time. In this article, we will explore these concepts in detail and examine their significance in the study of society.

Understanding Social Conflict

Social conflict refers to the struggle for power and resources between different groups or individuals within a society. It arises when there are competing interests, values, or goals that are not easily reconciled. These conflicts can occur at various levels, from interpersonal conflicts between individuals to large-scale conflicts between social classes or nations.

Key Features of Social Conflict:

Theories of Social Change

Theories of social change aim to explain how societies evolve over time. They provide insights into the factors that drive societal transformation and the mechanisms through which it occurs. Let’s explore some prominent theories below:

1. Functionalism

In functionalism, social change is viewed as a gradual and orderly process that maintains societal equilibrium. It emphasizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of various social institutions to ensure stability. According to functionalists, social change occurs when there is a dysfunction or imbalance within these institutions.

2. Conflict Theory

In contrast to functionalism, conflict theory posits that social change is driven by conflict and competition between different groups in society. It focuses on the power struggles and inequalities that exist within a society. Conflict theorists argue that social change happens when marginalized groups challenge the dominant power structures to achieve greater equality.

3. Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic interactionism emphasizes the role of individual interactions and meanings in shaping social change. It suggests that social change occurs through the constant renegotiation of shared symbols, meanings, and social roles. Symbolic interactionists focus on how individuals interpret and give meaning to their experiences, which can lead to changes in societal norms and values.

Relationship Between Social Conflict and Social Change

Social conflict and social change are closely intertwined. Social conflict often acts as a catalyst for social change by challenging existing power structures, norms, and inequalities within a society. When marginalized groups engage in collective action and challenge the status quo, they can bring about significant transformations.

Social change can also give rise to new conflicts as it disrupts established systems and hierarchies. Those who benefit from the existing order may resist change, leading to further conflicts between different interest groups.


In conclusion, understanding social conflict and the theory of social change is crucial for comprehending how societies evolve over time. Social conflict serves as an impetus for social change by challenging existing power structures, norms, and inequalities.

Theories of social change provide valuable insights into the mechanisms through which societal transformation occurs. By studying these concepts, we can gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of societies and contribute to creating more just and equitable societies.