Social Conflict Theory is a sociological concept that explains how society operates and the reasons behind social conflicts. This theory argues that individuals and groups within society have different levels of power, which they use to compete for resources and control over institutions. The differences in power lead to social conflicts, which can be seen in various aspects of society such as race, gender, class, and age.

Origins of Social Conflict Theory

The origins of Social Conflict Theory can be traced back to Karl Marx, who developed the concept of class struggle. According to Marx, societies are divided into two major classes – the working class (proletariat) and the ruling class (bourgeoisie).

The bourgeoisie owns the means of production while the proletariat works for them. Marx argued that this unequal distribution of power would lead to social conflict.

Later, other sociologists such as Max Weber and Georg Simmel expanded on Marx’s ideas and developed their own versions of Social Conflict Theory.

Key Concepts

One key concept in Social Conflict Theory is power. Power refers to an individual or group’s ability to control resources and make decisions that affect others. In a capitalist society, those with more money have more power because they can control resources such as jobs and property.

Another important concept is ideology. Ideology refers to the beliefs, values, and attitudes that individuals hold about their society. In a capitalist society, the ruling class uses ideology to maintain their power by convincing others that their actions are in everyone’s best interest.

Examples of Social Conflict

Social conflict can be seen in various aspects of society such as race, gender, class, and age. For example:

Solutions to Social Conflict

Social Conflict Theory proposes that society can be changed through collective action. Collective action refers to individuals coming together to challenge those in power and demand change. This can happen through protests, strikes, and other forms of activism.

Another solution proposed by Social Conflict Theory is socialism. Socialism is a political and economic system where the means of production are owned by the community as a whole rather than by individuals or corporations. This would eliminate the unequal distribution of power that leads to social conflicts.


Social Conflict Theory explains how society operates and why there are conflicts between different groups in society. It highlights the importance of power and ideology in shaping social relations, and it proposes solutions such as collective action and socialism to address these issues.

By understanding Social Conflict Theory, we can better understand the reasons behind social conflicts and work towards creating a more equal and just society for all.