Conflict vs Consensus Theory
As the two theories aimed at understanding the human behaviour, knowing the difference between conflict and consensus theory can only be more helpful to you. These two theories are very much used in social sciences. These two theories are usually spoken of as in opposition based on their arguments. The consensus theory emphasizes that the social order is through the shared norms, and belief systems of people. These theorists believe that the society and its equilibrium are based on the consensus or agreement of people. However, conflict theorists view the society in a different manner. They believe that the society and social order are based on the powerful and the dominant groups of society. They emphasize the existence of a clash in interests among different groups in society. This article attempts to highlight the differences between these two theories through the provision of a better understanding of the two theories.
What is Consensus Theory?
The consensus theory focuses on the social order being sustained by the shared norms, values and beliefs of the people. According to this perspective, the society upholds the necessity to maintain the status quo and if an individual goes against what is accepted and shared by the majority that person is considered as deviant. Consensus theory gives prominence to culture as a way of maintaining the consensus of society. This theory highlights the integration of the values of a group of people. The consensus theory pays little importance to social change as they focus more on retaining the society as it is through consensus. However, they did not reject the possibility of social change. On the contrary, they believed social change to occur within the boundaries of consensus.
What is Conflict Theory?
It was Karl Marx who initiated this approach of viewing the society through the inequalities in society that gives rise to class conflicts. According to him, there are two classes in all so cieties, the haves and the have-nots. The status quo is maintained and fuelled according to the wants of the dominant group or else the haves in the society. Conflict theorists also pay attention to how the dominant groups in society maintain their power through the usage of social institutions such as religion, economy, etc. They believe that those who are in power use both repressive mechanisms as well as ideological state apparatus to maintain social order.
In this sense, this theory highlights the conflict of interests among people. The conflict theory also pays attention to the various forms of inequality that take place in society that can be economic, political, and educational in nature. Unlike in the consensus theory, this theory does not give prominence to shared norms and values or consensus of people. They highlighted the importance of the struggle between classes and the clashes of the haves and have-nots as a means of achieving equality.
What is the difference between Conflict and Consensus Theory?
• The consensus theory emphasizes that the necessity of shared norms and belief systems of people to maintain social order.
• These theorists do not pay a lot of attention to social change and consider it to be a slow process.
• They emphasize the integration of values.
• If an individual goes against the accepted code of conduct, he or she is considered as deviant.
• Conflict theory highlights that the society and social order are controlled by the powerful and the dominant groups of society.
• They emphasize the existence of a clash in interests among different groups in society.
• They reject the beliefs of consensus, shared norms and values.