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conflict sociology or sociology of social conflict on the one hand is understood as a theoretical perspective on society. On the other hand, as a branch of sociology and regardless of the allocation of social conflict, it can be seen as a central element of social life and as a driving force of social change. As a multi-disciplinary and cross-term, the theory of social conflict describes a basic fact of social place and, consequently, in most social science the theory approaches and disciplines, again, even if some sociological schools evaluate it as less central to the social sociality. Its research is under the questioning of its social causes and consequences. It can be said that social conflicts may have different objects; they often act as distribution, power and recognition of conflicts. Manifestations of social conflict, struggle, strife, competition strikes industrial conflict, class struggle and rebellion, war and civil war eventually.
In a figurative sense of social conflict is also used as a synonym for absolute contrast, for contradiction or antagonism, according to John Thompson (2005).
As a fact, representatives of the theories of social conflict consider conflicts as fundamental and inevitable process in society. It can be said that this relates first of all to the Marxists. However, among the adherents of this theory is the most famous German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf – the author of “Social class and class conflict in industrial society” (1957). It is essential to note that Dahrendorf believes that the Marxist theory adequately describes the Western European capitalist society of XVIII-XIX centuries, but in the XX century the society has changed. According to Dahrendorf, the basis of social conflict in a postindustrial society is not the property, the economy, and power, while agreeing with Weber’s understanding of power, Dahrendorf, nevertheless, believes that the most important role in social conflict plays so-called official or formal authority, relating to the existence of formal status hierarchies involving dominance and submission. Moreover, social classes are understood as those, which have conflicting interests and therefore conflicting groups that exist as a result of a differentiable distribution of official authority within the industry, government, churches and other institutions. Official (formal) power is considered as the most significant and necessary social attitudes and conflicts exist wherever it occurs. Official government forms the basis of “objective” class contradictions, which have not yet understood, because are latent. In the first stag, the conflict tend to have imagined interests of the parties, the second stage is characterized by awareness of objective class interests, the third stage – the transition to a direct conflict operations. The conflict eventually leads to a redistribution of power and it all starts from the beginning. Therefore, the conflict can not be eliminated completely, it can be only regulated.
Also, it is extremely important to note that structural functionalism and conflict theory developed in the framework of the so-called macro approach in sociology, dating back to the ideas of Marx and Durkheim. In this approach, society is understood as a system that can not be explained on the basis of individual behavior and interaction, on the contrary, individual behavior and individual processes are explained on the basis of systemic patterns and structural features. However, the theoretical difficulty in this case is the inability to reveal the sources of systemic patterns and specific mechanisms for their effects on behavior. This difficulty is overcome in the micro approach (the principle of methodological individualism), according to which, society assumes that the basis of any structure are individual interactions. For example, in a symbolic Interactionism, micro approach is combined with the micro methodological principle of understanding. However, the micro approach can be implemented in the framework of behavioristic methodology, where the behavior of animals and humans is being investigated as the set of observed reactions, deterministic stimuli of the environment, according to Mass Media & Society: A Sociological Perspective on Media (2010).
In turn, social exchange theory argues that the social system is the result of individual interaction, understood as the exchange, which is based on open behaviorists’ psychological patterns. In this case the main source of reward (reinforcement) is the other person (group), and the reward itself is understood very broadly (including any services, attention, smiles, etc.). The most prominent representative of this trend is the American sociologist George Homans. In his book “Social behavior: Its elementary forms” (1961) he formulated the laws of elementary behavior (called behavioristic postulates of Homans). Elementary social behavior – is the direct, in the face to face interaction, exchange with another person. George Homans distinguishes it from the institutional behavior that focuses on the verbalized rules and is often associated with indirect exchange between many people. Institutions exist only to the extent that their rules are based on the primary exchange. Moreover, if rewards and punishments, which have received in the course of elementary behavior, are contrary to the institutional norms, the institution gradually changes. The phenomenon of power explains the principle of least interest: the one, who least interested in the exchange, has a greater ability to dictate his terms, which leads to asymmetrical power relations and exchange.