Social Conflict Theories



Social Conflict Theories

Conflict theory states that groups and individuals in the society possess different amount of both material and nonmaterial resources and that those that are more powerful use their power to exploit the less powerful (Grant and Kirton, 2007).According to the conflict theory of Karl Marx, scarce resources call for competition. Scott’s family was poor. The fact that he went fishing clearly shows Scott’s level of poverty. Poverty is an indirect form of discrimination by the society that allows one to have more than other. Laci’s pregnancy spelled doom for Scott since it would mean that he had to work harder to provide for the extra mouth. Therefore, instead of going through the trouble of feeding an extra mouth, Scott opted for the insurance money that he would get if his wife, and unborn, child disappeared.

Marxist or radical theory analyzes the societal conflicts or class relations by using a money-oriented interpretation of historical development and the dialectical view of social revolution (Blackledge, 2006). Marxism methodology uses sociopolitical and economic inquiry to analyze and criticize the development of capitalism and its role in class struggles. Marxist theory banks on the materialistic development of society from the onset of economic activities to the intended satisfaction of wealth. The offender seems to have been in a financial crisis. The fear for the unborn child mirrors some of his economic problems that would increase with the birth of the baby. To the offender, eradication of two extra mouths, his wife, and the unborn baby meant to spend and eat more as well as eradication of liability

Power-control or feminist theories are an extension of feminism into a philosophical or theoretical discourse. The theories aim at understanding women’s social roles as well as the larger gender inequality question (Mann and Patterson, 2016). Power-control theory involves the stratification from gender relations within the family unit. However, there seems to have existed no form of feminism between the offender, Scott, and his wife, Laci. It would, therefore, be incorrect to conclude that the feminism had a part to play in the disappearance and murder of Laci and Conner.

In criminology, left realism developed as a result of critical criminology’s reaction to the perception of Left’s failure to take notice of everyday crime. Left realism argues that working class people disproportionately get affected by crime. Left realism theory sheds some light into the crime since as much as Scott owned a restaurant; the wages from the restaurant remained minimal and could not even sustain his small family.

Restorative justice is a justice approach that focuses on the needs of the offenders and the victims as well as the involvement of the community instead of satisfying the abstract legal principles of the law by punishing criminals. The approach urges wrongdoers to take responsibility for their actions as well as the provision of support to the lawbreakers, to prevent similar future incidences. I highly agree that the restorative justice approach would provide the best alternative to a jail term for the offender. Not only it makes the criminal reflect on their actions but also helps them see what they would have done differently to avoid the crime. Punishing lawbreakers without making them understand what they did wrong does not help mold a better society in any way.


Blackledge, P. (2006). Reflections on the Marxist theory of history. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Grant, C. H., & Kirton, R. M. (2007). Governance, conflict analysis and conflict resolution. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers.

Mann, S. A., & Patterson, A. S. (2016). Reading Feminist Theory: From modernity to postmodernity.                                                            

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