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The Conflict Tradition, Materialism, and the Theory of Ideology

The conflict tradition interests me the most, particularly materialism and the theory of ideology put forward by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Both of these theorists described that the basis of human society is based on how humans work to produce the means of subsistence.

They describe the labor of production as diving into social classes where the people at the top live off the labor performed by the ones at the bottom. What I found particularly interesting was how these two theorists perfectly described the cycle that existed back then, where they believed that the working class (proletariats) was being oppressed by the ruling class (bourgeoisie). Furthermore, they also describe that the relationship built between these two classes was that of exploitation and that of social conflict. It was more than obvious that both of the classes depended on each other for one thing or the other: employment or profit. It was obvious that one event, in particular, influenced the thinking of the two theorists: The Industrial Revolution. All of the issues discussed by the theorists in their time refer to the ongoing conflict that was occurring between the labor classes working in factories vs. the owners of those factories. A lot of this can even be applied today. Just think of multinational corporations taking advantage of cheap labor in another country and exploiting it for their benefit, which is to create a profit, while the people in that country go through with the exploitation for the sake of money and employment. This compelling evidence of ongoing events compels me to believe in the theorist’s ideas because it is clear that it is happening. It becomes very hard not to believe or challenge this theory when the proof of it is right in front of you. Example: Chinese Labor Exploitation (Collins, 1994).


Collins, R. (1994). Four sociological traditions. New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press.



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