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Theoretical Paradigms - Essay Example

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Name: Institution: Theoretical Paradigms Introduction Various scholars advanced different theories describing how society functions. Functionalists such as Talcott Parsons and Emile Durkheim viewed society as a collection of interdependent functions held together by social consensus…
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Download file to see previous pages On the other hand, proponents of structuralism (created by Ferdinand de Saussure) best understood society’s functioning through the examination of underlying structures such as language that have observable effects on different aspects of society. For example, members of a society unconsciously follows linguistic rules in their daily usage of language. Finally, conflict theorists viewed society as conflict-oriented and continuously changing. Explored below is the social conflict perspective and its application to the recent crisis in Syria. Social conflict perspective Social conflict theory emphasizes the role of conflict in fostering social change within the society. Unlike functionalism and structuralism, conflict theorists view change as revolutionary or radical and not incremental. Conflict theory is a derivative of Karl Marx’s ideologies, which recognized the dynamic nature of society. According to scholars ascribed to this school of thought, conflicts in society are inevitable and result from competition for the scarce limited resources such as money or land. Competition stratifies the society, whereby, the highest class own majority of the resources leaving less resources for those in the lower classes to divide amongst themselves. Controlling a higher percentage of the scarce resources elevates these individuals to the ruling class, which bestows upon itself the power needed to control different facets of the society such as the political and economic sectors. They institute laws that advance their own personal needs showing little regard for the needs of their subordinates stirring feelings of resentment among them. Inequality between the classes breeds feelings of frustration among those in the lower classes prompting them to resort to actions aimed at achieving social change. Social structures and organizations mirror inequality among the different classes and the competition for scarce resources on a larger scale (Gidden et al, 2009). Scholars from different academic disciplines such as philosophy gave analogies that served to explain the role of conflict in the functioning of society. In his collection of essays titled ‘The Genealogy of Morals’, Nietzsche used the master-slave analogy to explain the relationship between the ruling and subordinate classes. According to the philosopher, three social classes exist; the noble, slaves and priestly class. Driven by their need to advance personal goals, the noble class defines morality by distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for all society members. These distinctions oppress the other two classes soliciting different responses. Those in the slave class lives a resigned life serving the nobles with any attempt to progress thwarted. However, those in the priestly class develop feelings of ressentiment (a reactive feeling to a continuous perceived sense of oppression) towards the noble class triggering a “slave revolt” mentality, which generates conflicts (Nietzsche, 2010). Case study The Syrian crisis began in March 2011 after locals in the southern city of Deraa protested against the arrest of fifteen schoolchildren who were alleged victims of torture inflicted by governmental officials as punishment for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. In spite of the peaceful protests, the government opted for brute force to quash the protests opening fire on civilians, killing four people. The situation spiraled out of control triggering anti-government ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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