Social conflict theory is a Marxist-based social theory which argues that individuals and groups (social classes) within society interact on the basis of conflict rather than consensus. More powerful groups will tend to use their power in order to retain power and exploit groups with less power.
Through various forms of conflict, groups will tend to attain differing amounts of material and non-material resources (e.g. Conflict theorists view conflict as an engine of change, since conflict produces contradictions which are sometimes resolved, creating new conflicts and contradictions in an ongoing dialectic.
The field experiment involved two groups of twelve-year-old boys at Robber’s Cave State Park, Oklahoma, America.
The twenty-two boys in the study were unknown to each other and all from white middle-class backgrounds.
During this stage, tensions between the groups were reduced through teamwork-driven tasks that required intergroup cooperation.
As seen in the study when the boys were competing in camp games for valued prizes, Sherif noted that hostile and aggressive attitudes toward an outgroup arise when groups compete for resources that only one group can attain.
Focus: on the conflict of interest that is inherent in all groups and between all members of groups.
Feelings of resentment can arise in the situation that the groups see the competition over resources as having a zero-sums fate, in which only one group is the winner (obtained the needed or wanted resources) and the other loses (unable to obtain the limited resource due to the "winning" group achieving the limited resource first).In class conflict, owners are likely to have relative advantages over non-owners.For example, the legal system underlying the relationship between the owner and tenant can be biased in favor of the owner.According to Campbell, hedonistic assumptions do not adequately explain intergroup relations. The first stage being "ingroup formation", in which upon arrival the boys were split into two approximately equal groups based on similarities.Each group was unaware of the other group's presence.These are the ideas that provided the basic tenets of communism as an economic form.