Definition Definition

What Is Conflict Theory? Types of Social Conflicts with Example

Conflict Theory is a sociological and psycho-social theory that emphasizes the role of power, authority, and manipulation in sociocultural change and stability. Popularized by the German philosopher, Karl Marx, it focused on how the uneven distribution of resources and power among different groups of society gives birth to social conflicts. 

This theory also focuses on the necessity of disposal of power and authority to a chosen few or else it would be impossible for a society to function.


For example, one of the dire social conflicts to have bugged humanity for ages would be class conflict. It stems from how traditionally having some attributes from birth or making more money is attached to having a higher status in the society and that creates unrest.

The conflict theory deems conflicts and uneven distribution of power necessary for social stability and certain changes societies must go through with time. Without such conflicts, the development of any society would be nonexistent.

Types of Social Conflicts

The various conflicts in society have given birth to a number of theories that advocate social reform. Some of the most sought after conflicts are -

  • Gender conflict (Feminist theory)
  • Sexuality conflict (Qeer theory)
  • Racial conflict
  • Colonial conflict (Postcolonial theory)
  • Structural conflict (Poststructural theory)

Nowadays societies all over the world are aiming for inclusivity, appreciating diversity, and respecting each other’s struggles to build more accepting societies and that would be a welcome social reform. Conflict theory advocates that these conflicts (and not conformity or equality) are at the very heart of fully functional societies.


Use of the Term in Sentences

  • Many writers use conflict theory in their storytelling since, without conflict, no motivational or grabbing story of struggle and growth can be orchestrated.
  • Conflict theory states that societies require the oppressor-oppressed or privileged-less privileged dynamics to function. 


Category: Sociology
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