Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The theoretical foundation of the conflict perspective is the philosophy of Karl Marx and its expression in various schools of intellectual thought that include conflict theory, critical theory, historical Marxism, Marxist feminism, socialist feminism, and radical feminism. At the center of Marx's analysis is an economic perspective of social life that conceptualizes people's ownership of and control over the products and processes of their labor as the origin of social organization (society). In capitalist societies, the unequal distribution of property ownership and control and autonomy over one's work underlies a social organization characterized by inequality, social conflict, subordination, and domination. Individuals similarly located and influenced by particular economic positions constitute a social class and act in their interests. The upper-income classes ensure their privilege over the lower-income classes by influencing and controlling significant components of society—namely, the political, ideological, and cultural spheres. Theorists of the conflict perspective critique these capitalist ...