Examining the role of Conf lict in Relationships
Inspired by Marxist Theory and Friedrich Engels (late 1800s) Takes shape 1960s and 1970s Hierarchies of race and gender rejected and re- examined. Questioning relationships and the family structure
To criticize society and relationships, rather than explain them! Unlike functionalism, conflict theory focuses on when and where relationships are ineffective. Sees conflict as a sign of inequality/power imbalances
Functionalism Conflict Theory Organized to function Organized according to effectively power imbalance Equilibrium Competition Structures work to meet Competition prevent needs needs from being met Conflict because we are Conflict because needs not following “the norm” are neglected
How would a Conflict theorist criticize the “norms” of Functionalism?
Relationships are organized according to power and hierarchies, and not functional interdependence.
Who are relationships functional for? How do relationships operate to benefit some and not others? Who has power and who is being exploited? Whose needs are met, and whose are neglected?
Competition Inherent Inequality Unmet needs = tension and conflict Conflict necessary for change.
Gender (male entitlement, female oppression) Age Education (educated, career established vs unemployed, working in the home)
Attention Emotional support Access to resources (financial, social) Roles and authority Time together, free time
Conflict is good. It is how we deal with it that results in negative and/or positive effects. Natural and crucial part of partner interaction.
Inherent power imbalances and competition ... BUT, we identify with partners because of common goals and mutual affection
The absence of conflict and tension indicates a successful relationship. Conflict Theorists say No! Why is this?