The Social Conflict Theory and Sexism

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The social conflict theory is an explanation of society derived from Marxism that assumes that contradictions exist in society, explains why this is so and outlines how conflicts may be resolved. This theory asserts that the essence of society is in its social structures, mainly the economy and politics and that all societies are social stratified, that is, divided into groups of people based on economic criteria (Edinboro 2004).

Economic power is the basis of political power, so that those who have more access to wealth have more control over those who are limited or have nothing at all. Those who are less privileged oppose this set-up in order to survive and this constitutes the main form of social conflicts. Resolution lies in changing the social structures in revolutionary ways. Culture mirrors the economic and political structures and works to cement these structures so that the whole society accepts it and adheres to it, thereby achieving a state of stability.

Patriarchy describes the system where locus is on men. The same principles apply in relationships between men and women. Sexism is a culturally predetermined and established way of thinking and behaving that constructs reality into men who are superior and women who are weak Edinboro 2004). As such, women are expected to behave and are regarded in a stereotyped manner. Sexism, made apparent in actions and words, is a manifestation of the unequal power relations between dominant men and subordinate women.

This situation constitutes an oppressive condition for women and so they strive to free themselves from it by actively resisting this type of treatment. It is in this aspect that it becomes part of social conflict. The domination of men stems from their economic power because they are engaged in productive work while women are reduced to the domestic or non-productive (Edinboro 2004). They are also objectified for their reproductive roles and discriminated upon. Women strive for change through participation in economic life and in advocating equal rights.

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