There are two dominant theories used in the social sciences to understand human behaviour: consensus theory and conflict theory. They offer contrasting explanations of how humans interact in society. The consensus theory argues that humans are naturally cooperative and will work towards a common goal, while the conflict theory believes that competition and power struggles are inherent in human nature. Which of these theories do you think best explains human behaviour?
What is Consensus Theory?
Consensus theory seeks to determine “what all people in a society have in common”. It is possible to interpret consensus theory as revealing fundamental common principles people use, whether knowingly or unconsciously. Although people from different social groups may have diverse lifestyles, many societies and communities have certain attributes in common. The common elements of all cultures include customs, religious beliefs, and traditional practices. They also cover comparable behaviour patterns in various circumstances, such as proper conduct.
The consensus theory also dictates how people handle conflict. People are seen as avoiding or resolving conflict by consensus. People look to agree that they can live together in peace rather than continue a fight that could lead to serious consequences. World crises such as the coronavirus pandemic tend to highlight the common elements of society in terms of how people from various backgrounds live together.
The consensus theory “emphasizes that 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”. A person becomes deviant if they go against what is acceptable in society, and these theorists believe in integrating the values of a group of people.
What is Conflict Theory?
The conflict theory was born out of Marx’s spectrum views, which describe society as having two classes: the haves and the have-nots. This theory “stresses that different groups have widely varying access to power and wealth” [Source]. It seeks to “determine who, why and how those with power have imposed specific aspects of culture on a society”. Under conflict theory, it is argued that culture is how the “powerful, who are those with wealth or social status, impose their will on society”. In simple terms, the conflict theorists “believe that the society and social order are based on the powerful and the dominant groups of society”.
The conflict theory recognizes that people have universal tying elements but emphasizes how individuals have differences in power access. It reveals the ugly truth of inequality which is described as a social evil by both socialism and communism.
Difference between Consensus and Conflict theory
A notable difference between consensus and conflict theory is that consensus theory focuses on things that tend to unify and unite society. On the other hand, as the name suggests, conflict theory is more inclined to divide and emphasize how people have different amounts of power. Consensus theories are all about “structural functionalism and are based on societal norms and values.” “it is a slow process that focuses on social order through implicit agreements within a systematic style”. Conflict theory state that “dominant groups are in control; they fight each other to gain control and try to agree outside of an orderly fashion” [Source].
The conflict theory rejects beliefs of consensus, shared norms and values, which are valued by the consensus. Also, conflict theory emphasizes the existence of a clash in interests among different groups in society, while consensus theory focuses on integration elements.
What are the 5 Components of Conflict Theory?
The five components of conflict theory are:
The conflict theory focuses on how people with different amounts of power struggle against each other. It is based on the idea that there is a social hierarchy in which some groups are more powerful than others. The most powerful groups can control society’s resources, and they use this power to oppress other groups.
The conflict theory is based on the work of Karl Marx, who believed that capitalism was a system of class conflict. He argued that the rich capitalists exploit the working class and that this leads to revolution. The conflict theory has explained many different social problems, such as racism, sexism, and poverty.
The conflict theory is not without its critics. Some argue that it is too simplistic and does not consider the many different factors that can contribute to social problems. Others say it is too pessimistic and does not offer any hope for change. But the, conflict theory remains an important part of social science. It continues to be used by scholars and activists to understand and challenge inequality in society.
What is an Example of Conflict Theory?
An example of conflict theory is how different groups within society compete for scarce resources, such as jobs, housing, or food. This competition can lead to conflict, violence, and even war. The conflict theory has explained many different social problems, such as racism, sexism, and poverty. It is also sometimes used to explain international conflicts.
The conflict model represents the link between employers and employees as one of conflict, in which employers seek to pay as little as feasible for their employees’ labour while employees seek to maximize their earnings.
What is a Scientific Consensus?
A scientific consensus is the collective opinion of experts on a particular subject. It is usually based on research and evidence, and it is used to make decisions about policy or practice. The consensus process is important because it allows for open discussion and debate among experts, leading to a more informed decision-making process.
The scientific consensus on climate change, for example, is that it is real and is happening now. The consensus is based on the evidence from many different scientific studies that have been conducted over many years. A large body of evidence shows that the Earth’s climate is changing and that human activity is the main cause.
The consensus process can be slow, and it can be difficult to agree on complex issues. But it is important to remember that consensus does not mean that everyone agrees on all of the time. It is normal for there to be disagreement and debate in the scientific community. The consensus process is designed to allow for this disagreement so that the best decision can be made.
What is Functionalism?
Functionalism is a theory in sociology that sees society as a system of interconnected parts that work together to promote stability and order. The different parts of society are like organs in the body, and they each have a specific function to perform.
Talcott Parsons developed the functionalist perspective, and it has been influential in shaping sociological thinking. Functionalism is a consensus theory, which means that it sees society as being held together by a shared set of values and norms. Functionalism is a macro theory that considers how all societal institutions and structures interact. Examples of structures or institutions of the society include Education, health care, family, legal system, economy, and religion.
What is an Example of Consensus Theory?
Consensus theory is a social theory that holds that there is general agreement in society on basic issues. Consensus theories are based on structural functionalism, which is the belief that societies are organized around shared norms and values. Consensus theory is often used in political science to explain how different groups in society agree on issues like taxation or welfare.
Consensus theory has been criticized for being too optimistic and for not considering the existence of conflict in society. But it remains an important theory in social science. It can help explain how different groups come together to make decisions.
Emile Durkheim is one of the most famous consensus theorists. The French sociologist and criminologist state that “The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or common consciousness”. He argued that societies are held together by shared values and beliefs. This consensus is necessary for social order. Durkheim believed that conflict is a natural part of social life, but he also believed it is possible to achieve a consensus on basic issues.
Another important consensus theorist is Talcott Parsons, who argued that consensus is necessary for the functioning of societies. The American sociologist Talcott Parsons regarded society as a human body and argued that institutions in society functioned like organs in the body, each performing a distinct function necessary for the health of the whole. According to Parsons, parts of society should be understood in terms of what they contribute to maintaining the overall system.
Parsons contended that societies need certain “functional prerequisites” to survive. In the same way, human beings require some aspects to live, so too must every society have certain requirements to function effectively. For example, society must generate and distribute food and shelter; there must be coordination when people disagree.
Parsons and Durkheim are two of the most important consensus theorists, but there are many other scholars who have also contributed to this theory. Consensus theory remains an important part of social science, and it continues to be used by scholars to understand how different groups in society interact.
An example of consensus theory in action is the process of negotiation. Negotiation is a way for two or more parties to agree on an issue. In a negotiation, each party tries to reach a consensus on what they want and how to get it. Negotiation is an important part of politics, and it is often used to resolve the conflict between different groups.
The consensus process is designed to allow for this disagreement so that the best decision can be made. The consensus process issue. For negotiation to be successful, the parties must be able to find a consensus on the issue. This can be done by finding a middle ground or by compromise.
Negotiation is an important part of consensus theory. It is an example of how this theory can be used in real life.