Consensus, conflict, and pluralist perspectives: A brief analysis essay

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Society is viewed as a complex system of social organizations, which interact to perform various functions. These interactions may be called as a social phenomenon.  Social theories are frameworks of empirical evidence used to analyze and interpret these social phenomena.  Social perspectives are parts of these frameworks.  Social organizations interactions are analyzed thru three main social perspectives. 

These perspectives are (Schmalleger); consensus perspective, pluralist perspective, and conflict perspective.

All three aforementioned perspectives are related to political and economic system of a society or nation.  Consensus perspective considers that a particular political and economic system is fair where most members agree on what is right and what is wrong, and social changes should take place within its social institutions. This approach may be implied to the fact that irrespective of whatever approaches selected by a king or a dictator in arranging social changes, people must agree to accept it.  The consensus theory is used as a sociological argument for the preservation and furtherance of the status quo.  On the other hand, conflict theory believes status quo must be changed only thru force and power.  This perspective is derivative of Karl Marx’s works that evaluates society as fragmented groups each representing own social and economic resources.  According to this perspective more powerful groups use their powers in order to exploit groups with less power.  Pluralistic perspective believes power should be spread among all economic and ideological groups.  It advocates that all the power should not be hold by any particular elite group.

Under consensus hypothesis, the absence of conflict is considered as the balance state of society, and all members of the society are in general agreement with the rules, regulations, values, and norms.   Consensus theory is concerned with the preservation and continuation of social order in society.  Pluralist theory is also concerned with the preservation and continuation of social order in society.  Unlike the consensus theory, it stresses distributing of power among all groups of the society.  Conflict theory is less concerned with the maintenance or continuation of social order, while uses sociological justification for modifying the status quo or for its complete reversal.

I perceive that pluralist perspective is a compromise between consensus and conflict prospective.  Consensus theory is totally silent about the distribution of power as a social requirement, whereas conflict theory advocates the use of social violence to change this status quo.  It is a fact that social order is maintained by rule with power in the hands of those with the greatest economic, politic, and social resources.  Consensus contributes common interest among people, often in opposition to the other groups and thus unites the society.  However, society must not concentrate power in one hand or one group, and that is why pluralist perspective is required in distributing power among all social groups.

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