Conflict theory is an age old phenomenon that some believe still rules culture today. Regardless of opinion, how can one position themselves for success with or without conflict theory?

What Is Conflict Theory?

Conflict Theory
Conflict Theory Suggests That Individuals Constantly Compete For Scarce Resources

Karl Marx first introduced this theory about society. He suggests that society is in a constant state of competition. This is a byproduct of scarce resources, which the masses need or want. Furthermore, conflict theory suggests that the powerful, or wealthy, attempt to control these resources. This results in suppression of the of the poor or lower class.

This is  a hard  theory to prove or even gather hard evidence. In a capitalistic society, individuals respond to incentives, which creates innovation and growth. The classic debate over technology and incentives lies in the Malthusian Argument. He argued that human population grows at an exponential rate, while the food supply is arithmetic or linear. This is clearly unsustainable. However, the advent of technology allowed increased food production at a fixed or even lower cost. This begs the question, who reaps the rewards of inventing life sustaining technology?

Conflict Theory In Society

Conflict theory suggests two primary classes, the wealthy and powerful, and the working class or poor. The minority, powerful class controls resources and exploits the poor. Marx suggested that the poor would revolt until conditions became acceptable, and the circle would repeat. An example of this occurs in landlord/tenant relationships, though this is typically a harmonious relationship as many housing options exist.

Furthermore, no real uprisings occurred recently in Western society, but the theory holds true. The advent of social media user generated content gives everyone a voice and better access to information. Now, if one cannot access the internet, this poses a problem. However, public libraries are the most accessible they have ever been.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, capitalistic societies do experience conflict theory. However, the important point is social classes are not permanent. Many rags-to-riches individuals will testify that individuals respond to incentives and desires for a greater life.


  1. I am currently doing a research project on this topic, and this page refers to another theory that in havent come acrost yet. The new theory is the Malthusian Theory.


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