The Conflict View of Stratification
	A.  Conflict, not function, is the basis of social stratification.

		1.  Every society has limited resources and in every society 
                    groups struggle with one another for those resources.
		2.  When a group gains power, it uses that power to extract 
                    what it can from the groups beneath it.

		3. The dominant group takes control of the social institutions, 
                   using them to keep other group s weak and to preserve for 
                   itself the best resources.

	B.  Marx
		1.  Focuses on the economy BUT the social relations in the economy
                    According to Marx, economic production is the center of social
                    life because we must produce in order to survive.  A persons 
                    place in society, their relationships to others, and their 
                    outlook on life are shaped by their work.

		2.  What relationships do people have to the economic structure
			a.  Bourgeoisie (capitalists) - own the means of production
			b.  Proletariat (workers) - sell their labor power to the 
                            owners of the means of production in order to earn a wage.
		3.  These groups have competing interests:
			a.  Capitalists
			reap profit (expropriate surplus) by paying workers less than 
                        the resale value of what they produce.  Their interest: keep 
                        wages down and resist legislation that strengthens labor (unions).

			b.  Workers 
			Sell their labor in order to earn a living wage

		4.  Mode of production = 1) manner in which production takes place 
                    (application of technology to nature) + 2) the class and property 
                    relations that develop out of production.

			a.  Three modes of production:
				small landowning aristocracy exploits the 
                                labor of a peasant majority
				dominance of owners of industry over the mass 
                                of industrual workers
				technologically advanced, classless society 
                                of the future in which all productive property 
                                would be held in common.
		5.   superstructure 
			a.  Mode of production is the main determinant of a 
                            society's superstructure of social and political 
                            institutions and ideas.
			    He uses this concept of superstructure to answer 
                            the question:
			    How do privileged minorities maintain their positions 
                            and contain the potential resistance of exploited 
			b.  Marx's response: 
			    The class that controls the means of production typically 
                            controls the means of compulsion and persuasion (the 

		6.  Ideology
			a.  Marx most significant contribution to social science

			b.  human consciousness is a social product. 
			    Social experience is not homogeneous in a class based society.  
			    The tendency is for members of each group to regard their own 
                            particular class interests as the true interests of the whole 
			c.  One class has the power to impose its self-serving ideas 
                            on other classes.  Hence, those that dominate production also 
                            dominate the institutions that produce and disseminate ideas 
                            such as schools, mass media, churches, and courts.
			    "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas"

			d.  All ruling classes develop an ideology to justify people's 
                            relative positions.  This ideology not only helps prevent the 
                            ruling class from feeling guilty about possessing wealth in the 
                            midst of deprivation, but also affirms its position in power by 
                            seducing the oppressed into false consciousness.

		e.  False Consciousness: Marx's term for the mistaken identification of 
                    workers with the interests of capitalists.
			Ex.  The ideology encourages the oppressed to believe that 
                             their welfare depends on keeping society stable so they 
                             support laws against their own interests and even sacrifice 
                             their children as soldiers in wars designed to support the 
                             entrenchment of the bourgeosie.

		7.  Social Change and the Dialectic
			a.  Class struggle is the basic source of social change.  
                            Each epoch creates within itself the growth of a new 
                            class that eventually seizes power and creates a new 
                            epoch; thus change is explained by an internal dynamic 
                            called the dialectic.

			b. How does social change occur?  Class consciousness 
			      1. an awareness of membership in a group defined 
                                 by a relationship to production, 
			      2. a sense that this shared identity creates common 
                                 interests and a common fate, and 
			      3. a disposition to take collective action in 
                                 pursuit of class interests.

		         c.  Class-in-itself: 
		             members share a social position but are unaware 
                             of their common situation.
		         d.  Class-for-itself: 
		             members are aware of common interests, they engage 
                             in militant action focused on goals that they conceive 
                             as being in direct opposition to those of other classes - 
                             they are defined by that opposition.

		e.  Marx Prediction: workers will revolt when class consciousness 
                    overcomes ideology.  At first the struggle may be covert but, 
                    ultimately will break into open resistance.

E.  Later Conflict Theorists:
		1.  Mills, Dahrendorf, and Collins
		    They argue that conflict between capitalists and workers
                    in only one of the conflicts - groups within the same 
                    class compete for scarce resources, thus conflict is 
                    between many groups (e.g. young v. old; women v. ment).

		2.  Groups within the same class compete for power, influence, 
                    wealth, education, housing territory, and prestige - whatever 
                    benefits society has to offer.  This results in conflicts 
                    between the young and old, labor unions and business, producers 
                    and consumers, women and men, and racial and ethnic groups.

	F.  Unlike functionalists conflict theorists hold that just beneath the  
            surface of what may appear to be a tranquil society lies overt conflict - 
            uneasily held in check.

For More Infor on Marx Check Out the Following Links:

The Marx - Engels Internet Archive:
The Communist Manifesto:
The Dead Sociologists Society:
The Marxism Homepage:


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