What Are the Types of Social Conflict Theories?

Where the theory of social conflict applies, various examples include the disparity between the rich and the poor and other social class conflicts, like gender equality, that influence social structures. Social conflict theory contends that phenomena within societies are the result of established competition between different groups, like the rich and the poor. Similar to many theories in sociology, the social conflict perspective overlaps other theories to explain behavior in people. Feminism, like other belief systems, often operates within the model of the social conflict perspective.

When any group of people recognizes or seeks to end a power struggle between stratified classes, it is a case to which social conflict theory can be applied. Examples of such events in U.S. history include the Freedom Summer of 1964 and the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. Anytime a person personally competes for resources within an economy, it is an instance that can be explained by conflict theory.

Although social conflict theory explains many privilege-versus-oppression struggles within modern and even global societies, it applies to other phenomena as well. When companies strive to compete and to put each other out of business, that is a process that social conflict theory can illuminate. Social conflict theory is applicable anytime a society changes as a result of dissatisfaction or simple evolution.