The conflict theory of social change is a sociological perspective that views society as a constantly changing entity in which conflicts arise due to inequalities and power imbalances. This theory suggests that social change occurs when there is a struggle between different groups in society.

Understanding Conflict Theory

According to the conflict theory, societies are made up of individuals and groups with differing levels of power and resources. These differences lead to conflict, which causes social change. The theory suggests that this social change occurs when those who have less power and resources band together to challenge those in positions of power.

The Key Components of Conflict Theory

There are several key components of the conflict theory of social change. One is the idea that society is made up of different groups with varying levels of power and resources. Another key component is the concept of competition between these groups, which leads to conflict.

The Role of Social Change

The conflict theory suggests that social change is necessary for societies to progress. Without it, inequalities continue to exist, and those in positions of power continue to maintain their dominance. Social change can occur through peaceful means such as protests or through more violent means such as revolutions.

Examples of Social Change

Throughout history, there have been many examples of social change brought about by conflicts between different groups in society. The American Civil Rights Movement was one such example, as African Americans banded together to challenge the inequality they faced in American society.

Another example is the rise of labor unions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Workers banded together to challenge the power and dominance of their employers, leading to changes such as better wages and working conditions.

The Limitations of Conflict Theory

While the conflict theory provides a useful framework for understanding social change, it has its limitations. One limitation is that it tends to focus on conflict and competition between different groups, overlooking the potential for cooperation and collaboration.

Another limitation is that it can oversimplify complex social issues by reducing them to simple power struggles between different groups. This can lead to an incomplete understanding of the factors contributing to social change.


The conflict theory of social change provides a valuable perspective on how societies evolve over time. By recognizing the role of power imbalances and competition between different groups in society, we can better understand how social change occurs. However, it is important to recognize the limitations of this theory and consider other factors that contribute to social change as well.