Social Structure

Essay by Dream82University, Bachelor'sA+, December 2004

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In order for us to understand why sociological theories could be classified into 'consensus' and 'conflict' perspectives. Let us first look at the definitions of these two concepts of consensus and conflict. Consensus is a concept of society in which the absence of conflict is seen as the equilibrium state of society based on a general or widespread agreement among all members of a particular society. Conflict is a disagreement or clash between opposing ideas, principles, or people-this can be a covert or overt conflict.

Conflict theory, therefore, is a theory or collection of theories which places emphasis on conflict in human society [Jary & Jary, 2000:105]. The discourse of conflict theory or perspectives is on the emergence of conflict and what causes conflict within a particular human society. Or we can say that conflict theory deals with the incompatible aspects of human society. Conflict theory emerged out of the sociology of conflict, crisis and social change.

Consensus theory, on the other hand, is a sociological perspective or collection of theories, in which social order and stability/social regulation forms the base of emphasis. In other words consensus theory is concerned with the maintenance or continuation of social order in society; in relation to accepted norms, values, rules and regulations as widely accepted or collectively by the society-or within a particular society- itself. It Emerged out of the sociology of social order and social stability/social regulation.

Put these into perspective the consensus and conflict sociological theories are reflected in the works of certain dominant social theorists. Dominant Classical social theorists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. And other prominent social theorists such as Talcott Parsons & Robert Merton, Louis Althusser & Ralph Dahrendorf and Herbert Mead & Herbert Blumer. It is important to note that the conflict...