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Social Sci LibreTexts

12.3B: The Conflict Perspective

  • Page ID
    8305
  • [ "article:topic" ]

    The conflict perspective views the family as a vehicle to maintain patriarchy (gender inequality) and social inequality in society.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Analyze the family from the perspective of conflict theory

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • The conflict perspective describes the inequalities that exist in all societies globally, and considers aspects of society as ways for those with power and status to maintain control over scare resources.
    • According to conflict theorists, the family works toward the continuance of social inequality within a society by maintaining and reinforcing the status quo.
    • Through inheritance, the wealthy families are able to keep their privileged social position for their members.
    • Conflict theorists have seen the family as a social arrangement benefiting men more than women.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • family: A group of people related by blood, marriage, law or custom.
    • inheritance: The passing of title to an estate upon death.
    • Conflict Perspective: A perspective in the social sciences that emphasizes the social, political or material inequality of a social group; critiques the broad socio-political system; or otherwise detracts from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism.

    The Conflict perspective refers to the inequalities that exist in all societies globally. Conflict theory is particularly interested in the various aspects of master status in social position—the primary identifying characteristic of an individual seen in terms of race or ethnicity, sex or gender, age, religion, ability or disability, and socio-economic status. According to the Conflict paradigm, every society is plagued by inequality based on social differences among the dominant group and all of the other groups in society. When we are analyzing any element of society from this perspective, we need to look at the structures of wealth, power and status, and the ways in which those structures maintain social, economic, political and coercive power of one group at the expense of others.

     

    The Family

     

    According to conflict theorists, the family works toward the continuance of social inequality within a society by maintaining and reinforcing the status quo. Because inheritance, education and social capital are transmitted through the family structure, wealthy families are able to keep their privileged social position for their members, while individuals from poor families are denied similar status.

    Conflict theorists have also seen the family as a social arrangement benefiting men more than women, allowing men to maintain a position of power. The traditional family form in most cultures is patriarchal, contributing to inequality between the sexes. Males tend to have more power and females tend to have less. Traditional male roles and responsibilities are valued more than the traditional roles done by their wives (i.e., housekeeping, child rearing). The traditional family is also an inequitable structure for women and children. For example, more than 60 percent of all mothers with children under six are in the paid workforce. Even though these women spend as much (or more) time at paid jobs as their husbands, they also do more of the housework and child care.

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    Chinese Family in Suriname: According to conflict theorists, the family works toward the continuance of social inequality within a society by maintaining and reinforcing the status quo.