Karl Marx’s Ideas: Society Alienation and Conflict Theory

After assessing Marx’s theories and ideas, I came to appreciate the value and contribution of his work in fostering knowledge in society. As I educated myself about Marx’s works, I began to appreciate how multidimensional they are as they cover social, economic, and cultural aspects of social relations. My interest in Marxist ideas and philosophy has grown, and I have taken time to understand his approach to pertinent issues in the contemporary social setting. His ideas on the issue of materialism are fundamental in offering the much-needed explanation in regard to the social and economic undertakings that take place in societal contexts. After learning about Marx’s writings, I definitely started to like them more. Besides, I believe that those ideas are relevant in the contemporary world, which suffers from class division, and the gap between the rich and the poor both culturally and economically.

Marx’s Views on Alienation in Society

Karl Marx has largely contributed to the development of philosophical ideas in modern society. His views on alienation are superior in addressing the subject matter. Marx’s scholarly and literary exploits were governed by his inherent desire for equality and fairness in social systems. He often evaluated the realities that are prevalent in society and how they disorient people from the ultimate realization of their ambitions and objectives in life (Marx and Engels 34).

Further, Marx was concerned about the relationship between the state and the citizens where the ruling elite is more concerned with the plight of property owners and act in utter disregard of the workers. Alienation is a term that has been subjected to multiple interpretations depending on context and prevailing circumstances. In general, alienation refers to instances where a person gets diverted from an issue or activity that holds immense relevance in regard to their existential threshold in social systems (Marx and Engels 39).

This definition denotes separation or disorientation from personal interests and pursuits that manifest through personal initiative. Marx discusses alienation in a conceptual version that seeks to highlight the resignation that is experienced by the proletariat as they seek to actualize their diverse endeavors in the social system. He blames the social system for presenting hurdles that impede individual effort and industry. The proletarians feel helpless due to the effects of oppressive tendencies that are propagated by the system. Under such circumstances, the pressured individuals resign to fate and perform within the confines of societal dictates and ascriptions (Marx and Engels 65).

Besides, Marx referred to concepts such as religion and how it contributes to alienation due to numerous misconceptions that shroud its existence in society. Marx concentrated on how alienation interconnects with human labor and materialism in social systems. He argued that alienation does not emanate from individual thought but rather from the natural inclination of the system towards biased and corrupt governance of human labor. The overall argument by Marx points to the situation where capitalistic tendencies alienate workers from the outcomes of their hard labor (Marx and Engels 67).

The highlight of the Marxian paradigm is the general effect of societal oppression and limitation on the ability of an individual to actualize their personal ambition. The aforementioned limitations contribute to alienation and disorientation, where people live undeserving livelihoods that expose them to suffering and subordination. Marx asserts that the solution to alienation is empowering the masses through revolutionary action that targets the system. This shall play a crucial role in giving people the power to shape their destiny through deliberate and appropriate actions. His views on the conflict are also important in addressing an issue that is a constant feature in modern society (Marx and Engels 73).

Description of Conflict Theory

Conflict theory lays emphasis on the prominent role of coercion and struggles for dominance and control in society. The theory focuses on the intrigues of power struggles as human beings scheme on the dominance of others in social contexts. According to Karl Marx, human existence embodies the continuous desire for dominance and control of social systems and factors of human existence (Gard 13).

He paints a picture of how social entities propagate class struggle through stratification and social division amongst members of society. He further emphasizes the need for unity and tranquility to ensure and guarantee harmonious coexistence in society. He sees the society as naturally stratified into various groups that seek to outdo each other in a struggle for available resources. The competition for social and economic factors of existence is a major source of conflict in society. Therefore, conflict theory seeks to make sense of such factors that precipitate conflict and animosity in societal settings (Gard 18).

To avert conflict in society, there is a need for a dominant system that guarantees order and harmonious coexistence amongst members of society. Eventually, conflict leads to the emergence of social orders that entail dominant groups with sufficient social, political, and economic strength. Such groups endeavor to control and dominate over other weaker groups and individuals. This reality creates a relative sense of social order and tranquility in society (Gard, 25).

The main aim of conflict resolution is the creation of a situation of consensus that centers on common goals and aspirations among members of society. In most cases, such unity of purpose suffices where groups rise against other groups owing to differences of opinion and disposition. This scenario presents itself as irony because such unity manifests in utter contravention of basic principles of conflict resolution. In such cases, people unite to oppose realities and truths that form the purpose of other groups of competing for interests (Gard 28).

The main preoccupation of conflict theory is the existence of disparities in modern social contexts. According to the theory, disparities in society emanate from constant struggle for limited resources. Certain privileged groups struggle to advance their selfish interests at the expense of the majority who do not yield power and influence (Berg 98). Those who yield power and influence coerce the majority into a life of submission, servitude, and apathy. This situation assists the powerful in advancing their interests as they entrench their hegemony over the majority members of society. Therefore, unity in society does not emanate from shared goals and aspirations but rather from dominance and coercion by the ruling elite. The elite in society engages in endless theatrics in order to preserve and propagate their interests and personal delusions. It suffices to argue that unity and harmony in society are superficial, considering that it covers an undesirable underbelly of conflict, coercion, and undue dominance by the elite (Berg 99).

Conflict theory also espouses several critical factors of existence within social settings in contemporary terms. The theory analyzes issues relating to gender, class, and racial considerations that form the basis for conflict and divisions in society. Various other theories of sociology focus on positive and desirable attributes of society. On the contrary, conflict theory majors on negative attributes and occurrences in society, with a direct interest in the basic effects of improper human action (Berg 113).

Conflict theory illuminates on realities that characterize human existence in society. For instance, it dissects the concepts of social dominance and consensus in society. It highlights various aspects of conformity and illusionary obedience to the law and other societal guidelines and expectations. According to this view, individuals and groups struggle to advance their interests and ideals in society by oppressing lesser groups that yield little or no influence. The struggle for power, influence, and resources lead to unwarranted situations of conflict and disharmony, thereby fragmenting society into factional outfits that are in constant competition. Ultimately, groups that emerge powerfully create divisions in society to govern, control, and dominate over lesser powerful entities (Berg 107).


In conclusion, the theories and teachings developed by Marx can be perceived in a number of different ways. They can be viewed as retrograde or radical. According to my position, they are progressive and important as they are directed at searching for balance in the society, for the resolution of conflicts that have been bothering the humankind for centuries. In his teachings, Marx attempted to defeat problems such as stratification (the social and economic division between the individuals of the same society), religion, and power conflict resolution.

Marx was determined to develop knowledge about a strong and stable system that would address all of these issues and establish order in the society, peace between the individuals and equality. Familiarizing myself with the writings of Karl Marx has made a significant impact on my perceptions and ideas about his works and the contribution to our society and human history in general. To my mind, Marx can be viewed as one of the most influential scholars and philosophers whose insights and theories have changed forever the way we see social relations and the structure of society.

Works Cited

Berg, Francis. Contemporary Sociological Theories. New York, New York: Hatherleigh Press, 2009. Print.

Gard, Michael. Conflict Theories: Modern Approaches. London, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis, 2012. Print.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. New York, New York: Penguin Adult, 2002. Print.