Conflict Theory There are many different, controversial problems in the United States. There are more empty houses then homeless people, starving children, and corrupt business leaders than there were many years ago. Many of these different things cause conflict. Things such as culture, religion, love and especially power have caused great conflict, even war, among people for thousands of years. One of the most important issues in today’s society is the unequal distribution of wealth and resources. There is a huge separation between the 1% and the rest of the American citizens. The middle class and especially lower class are barely getting by with their basic needs to stay healthy. This gap has caused the 1% to hold most of the wealth, while the rest of society is struggling. According the CNN (2015), “"The richest 1% have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014" (CNN, 2015). This growth is said to continue into the new year and reach more than 50%. When the gap becomes more and more immense, how will the lower and middle class react?
Conflict theories are viewpoints that scientists use to look at political, cultural, and social situations that arise in society. The main part studied in the conflict theory is what kind of inequality there is between two parties in these types of social situations. John Macionis (2013) stated the following:
Sociologists using the social-conflict approach look at ongoing conflict between dominant and disadvantaged categories of people – the rich in relation to the poor, white people in relation to people of color, and men in relation to women, Typically, people on top try to protect their privileges, while the disadvantaged try to gain more for themselves. (p. 11)
Some of the many things Karl Marx has contributed to sociological thought are concepts such as alienation, dialectical materialism, as well as class and conflict theory. Just in conflict theory, there are many sub theories such as race-conflict theory, gender-conflict theory, and social-conflict theory. Marx is widely known as a leader in social conflict theory. According to Tom Rockmore (2005),
The social conflict theory states that groups within a capitalist society tend to interact in a destructive way that allows no mutual benefit and little cooperation. The solution Marxism proposes to this problem is that of a workers' revolution to break the political and economic domination of the capitalist class with the aim of reorganizing society along the lines of collective ownership and mass democratic control.
Why is society like this? Why is there such a conflict between the two parties? There is not one specific answer to this question. Greed, unethical business leaders, lack of education, societal norms are some of the most popular reasons on why there is such an unequal distribution of wealth and great conflict between the rich and the poor. Greed and envy are probably the most popular of all the reasons. Greed can be found within the societal norms as well as the unethical business leaders. The 1% is mainly made up of well-educated business leaders who have separated themselves from people (in the lower and middle class) that are not educated or compensated as well as they are. This can cause tension and make the lower and middle classes feel jealousy as well as inferior or uncomfortable. Envy also plays a massive role in the social gap between the wealthy and poor. The 1% does not pay taxes like the middle and lower class do. According to Isaac William and Monica Prasada (2014),
We specifically examine contributions to the study of taxation that illuminate core issues in the sociology of contemporary capitalism, including the causes of poverty and inequality in rich countries and of inequality between rich and poor countries. Research on developed countries suggests that tax policy changes are important for explaining rising