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Example research essay topic: Ralf Dahrendorf - 1,129 words

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Ralf Dahrendorf When we try to explain why things happen to us, or whats going on in our world today, or why things are different now than they were before we always deal with sociological processes. Sociological theorists think similarly to the rest of us, but, perhaps, in a slightly more organized fashion. We think of social theory as an abstract from our own social experiences but the ideas that we call social theories are intricately interwoven with the familiar practical experiences of everyday life. Contemporary Sociological theory is impacted by the ideas of earlier classical theorists. Observation of our social world, coupled with mental reflection on those experiences organizes our minds so that we can interpret, criticize, and develop it and change our social world. In this work we try to discuss the similarities and differences between the integration and coercion theories of society, by drawing on Marx and the structural-functionalists.

Then try to provide a discussion of Dahrendorf's conception of power and authority and their various components. Interests have always played an important role for sociologists in theories of class. Discuss how Dahrendorf views the role of interests and the way he integrates them into his theory of class and class conflict. The first goal of this work is to introduce the major nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers who shaped the development of sociological theory. The "founding fathers" of the discipline: Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber focus on how the ideas of these theorists relate to contemporary research and theory construction. There are two types of conflicts: 1.Group Conflict (Conflict over legitimacy of authority relations, ruling group interests, subordinate group interests).

2. Class Conflict. "Class signifies conflict groups that are generated by the differential distribution of authority in imperatively coordinated associations" (Dahrendorf, p. 204) The theorists insight conflicts as ones based on: Marx: Production relations (ownership vs non-ownership of means of production) Weber: Market relations: (interests in marketability of goods & services) Dahrendorf: Authority relations: (interests in maintaining vs undermining authority) But in spite of difference in views as to the basis relations of conflicts they agreed in main particularities of them. They are: Variability of Conflict (Intensity, Violence: use of weapons, Contexts, Types, Class of correlation, and Mobility); Regulation of Class Conflict (Definition); Regulation of Class Conflict (Assumptions). Each conflict has Three Forms of Regulation: conciliation, mediation, arbitration. Conflict may produce 2 changes: exchange of dominant personnel values, and institutions of imperatively coordinated associations.

The origin of tradition of explanatory theory is the conflict tradition by Marx and Weber. If we abstract out its main causal propositions from extraneous political and philosophical doctrines, we can describe them as followed. Marx added more specific determinants of the lines of division among conflicting interests, and indicated the material conditions that mobilize particular interests into action and that make it possible for them to articulate their ideas. He also added a theory of economic evolution which turns the wheels of this system toward a desired political outcome. In all of these spheres, Marx was primarily interested in the determinants of political power, and only indirectly in what may be called a "theory of stratification." It implies the same principles of the material circumstances, the material conditions and classes differ in their control. These Marxian principles, with certain modifications, provide the basis for a conflict theory of stratification. Weber added complexity to Marx's view of conflict.

He showed that the conditions involved in mobilization and "mental production" is analytically distinct from property. And he revised the fundamentals of conflict. Weber also opens up yet another area of resources in these struggles for control, what was called the "means of emotional production." He underlined the power of religion and make it an important ally of the state; that transform classes into status groups, and do the same to territorial communities under particular circumstances (ethnicity). Durkheim's analysis of rituals can be incorporated at the point to show the mechanisms by which emotional bonds are created. There involves especially the emotional contagion that results from physical copresence. Durkheim is to be seen as amplifying knowledge of the mechanisms of emotional production, but within the framework of Weber's conflict theory. For conflict theory, the basic insight is that human beings are sociable but conflict-prone animals. The basic argument has three strands that men live in self-constructed subjective worlds; that others pull many of the strings that control one's subjective experience; and that there are frequent conflicts over control.

Life is basically a struggle for status in which no one can afford to be oblivious to the power of others around him. Critique of Marxist Conflict Theory: not all conflict represents economic or social class interests; crime continues to exist in (so-called) socialist societies. To the creators of contemporary Theory of conflicts Parsons, Spitzer and Dahrendorf should be treated. Having a look through the main points of their theories, we can notice several divergences. To know lets examine. Stephan Spitzer was sure that social conflicts mostly reveal themselves in: social dynamite and social junk; not just capitalism; dynamics (dialectics) of the system and its internal contradictions; higher classes also a threat etc. Talcott Parsonss version of structural functionalism is perhaps the best known. According to Parsons, four functional imperatives are present in all systems of action: adaptation, goal attainment, integration, and latency. Parsons further differentiated between four typed of action systems: the cultural, the social, the personality, and the behavioral organism.

After several disputes with Parsons, Ralf Dahrendorf revised his views. While structural functionalists tend to emphasize the orderliness and stability of society, conflict theorists like Dahrendorf characterize society as being in a state of flux and dissension. According to conflict theorists, coercion holds society together, not norms and value. Dahrendorf focused on the role of authority in society. He viewed it as involving the superordination and subordination of groups occupying particular positions. These interest groups have the potential to turn into conflict groups.

Their actions can lead to changes in social structures. The elements of the theory are concerned with the rate of social changes. As Dahrendorf said in his article: much of my thought has been devoted to the more difficult question of the direction of change and substance of social conflict... (Dahrendorf, 336 p.) So, the main difference was in the attitude to the main problem of conflict theory, in its sources and attempts to decide. Nowadays Dahrendorfs theory is considered to be one of the most popular to be discussed and it is completely adoptable to our society. Bibliography: Kivisto, Peter. Social Theory: Roots and Branches.

Second edition. Roxbury, 2003 Ritzer, George. Contemporary Sociological Theory and its classical roots: the basics. McGraw Hill, 2003 Turner, H. Jonathan. The structure of sociological theory.

Seventh edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003.

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