This group of sociologists sees society as being made-up of very large social groups (called social classes) who each have different experiences and interests. These classes are defined in terms of the different types of work that they do. Usually, three great classes are defined in this way:
a. An upper or ruling class - this consists of people with great wealth who own factories, companies and so forth.
b. A middle class - this consists of professional workers such as lawyers, doctors and accountants. These people do not own the businesses they work for and they achieve their position through the gaining of educational qualifications.
c. A working or lower class - this consists of people who do not own businesses and have few, if any educational qualifications. This group are mainly manual workers in society.
From this perspective, people are seen to be encouraged, through the socialisation process, to be competitive. This is because everyone is trying to either get the most that they can out of life or they are trying to prevent others taking away the things they have. In this respect, Conflict sociologists emphasise conflicts in society (between social classes, between men and women, between different ethnic groups).
Although there are shared values in society, Conflict Theorists argue that this is because the very powerful (members of the ruling class) are able to impose their values on the rest of society (through institutions such as the media, religion and so forth).
Like the Functionalist perspective, Conflict Theorists argue that society is a force that pressurises the individual to do things - like go to work, attend school, compete with and try to exploit others.