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Author Topic:   conflict theory vs structural functionalism
imen berrached
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posted 02-05-2010 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for imen berrached   Click Here to Email imen berrached     Edit/Delete Message

There are a few key differences between functionalism and conflict theory. The first being that structural functionalism focuses on the factors in society that allow it to interact cohesively. Instead of focusing on the causes of a cohesive society, the conflict theory supports the notion that the social system may only work for a select few of society. In the conflict theory these select few are the rich or the bourgeoisie of society.

While both theories identify the fact that some people in society have more money and power over others, only one of them supports this imbalance of power. The structural functionalism theory is the theory that supports this misplacement of power throughout the classes of society. The imbalance of money and power is what keep society in order, according to the structural functionalism theory. On the other hand, conflict theory believes that this imbalance of power and money is the flaw in the social system. This imbalance gives the upper class member of society an upper hand in all areas such as employment, politics, education, etc. Due to this imbalance, members of society are not provided with equal opportunities to progress. Society is no longer focused on quality but instead on quantity. During a job interview or a job offer, logically the job should go to the most qualified and experienced candidate. Instead, due to this imbalance of power, the job will go to the candidate with better connections and networking. Conflict theorists believe that this imbalance has created too much of a rift between classes. The theory calls for a completely new “restructuring” of the social system. In addition to the differences listed above, structural functionalism focuses on society as a whole unified entity. Conflict theorists focus on individual classes and their struggles.

The specific research question that I pose would be education inequality. Schools in upper-class rich neighborhoods are more equipped with technological advancements and offer more courses. As opposed to schools in lower class or poor areas where there may be a limited number of programs, resources, and staff. Structural functionalism would recognize educational inequality as something positive for society, because the most intelligent or well-fit students will be the ones to progress in their careers and hold jobs. This educational inequality will weed out the weak links of society so only the most qualified people will hold certain jobs. Conflict theory would recognize this educational inequality as flaw in society and a disadvantage to members of that society. Living in a poor neighborhood does not necessarily imply a low Intelligence Quotient. Therefore this educational inequality is potentially holding back very intelligent students with incredible potential to contribute to society. These students may even be smarts than the upper-class students, but due to the lack of resources they are not offered that many opportunities to excel.

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