Marx's Conflict Theory & the Fundamentalist Theory (and how it applies to Indonesia today).

Essay by tanvi11High School, 12th gradeA+, July 2004

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1. Name and outline one theory of social change.

The Conflict Theory of social change centers upon the premise that radical change in society is constant and inevitable, as existing social conditions will always contain the beginnings for a different future. The conflict theory has its origins in the writings of Karl Marx. Working in the late nineteenth century, Marx believed that all societies were primarily influenced by their economic base, and specifically by the relationships that exist between the different economic classes. He argued that the potential for social change was built into these relationships because it was these which evolved as individuals and groups struggled to maximise their benefits.

Marx believed that control in society was held by elite and economically-powerful groups who maintained social order for as long as it suited their own interests. However, this social dominance would eventually lead to a crisis point where the "exploited" (the working class) would challenge the "exploiting" (the elite groups) and the existing social order.

It is at this point that conflict between the classes becomes the mechanism for social transformation. According to Marx, this class conflict would eventually lead to both the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a communist society.

Modern conflict theory is based upon the same principles as Marx's theory; however modifications have been made. While Marx focused on class conflict as the catalyst for social change, modern theorists believe that conflict based upon other sources - such as political, ethnic or ideological disputes - can also play a part. Although these conflicts are not class-based, they can result in change when dissatisfied groups assemble their resources to achieve their aims.

The three primary assumptions of modern conflict theory are:

1) Competition - modern theorists believe that competition is at the heart of...