Conflict Theory

Conflict Theory


The general assumption of the conflict theorists is that sport is a reflection of the exploitative and unequal practices of capitalist society. Society is viewed as an ever-changing set of relationships characterized by inherent differences of interest and disagreements of various groups. The focus of conflict theorists is on processes of change and the consequences of inequality in society rather than on what is required to keep a society running. Based on Karl Marx’ idea that “religion is an opiate,” conflict theorists see sport as being the opiate for people in capitalist society. This means that the capitalist system is inherently based on the exploitation of workers; while sports are organized to benefit the owners of sport teams, the athletes are exploited. Furthermore, sport is seen as a perfect distraction for people, which occupies their free time and leaves little room for critical thoughts or any formation of rebellion against the inequalities in society. Thus, organized sports are a distorted form of physical exercise shaped by those possessing power and resources in capitalist systems.
Conflict theoretical researchers focus on issues that question the status quo and widely held beliefs. Questions they try to answer include: Does sport contribute to the alienation of people in capitalist society? What coercion and social control is executed in sports and organized forms of physical activity? Is sport reflecting destructive capitalist phenomena, such as commercialism, nationalism, and militarism? Are racism and sexism part of sport and organized physical activity, just as they are in society in general?
Weaknesses: The limitations of the conflict theory are threefold. First, these theorists exclude any factors other than the capitalist system in explaining the relationship between physical activity, sport, and society. “They see sport as a site where people learn to define their bodies as tools of production and then become alienated from their bodies in the process” (Coakley, 2004, 42). The focus here is that the people in power organize sport for their own benefits and the maximization of their wealth, while the possibility of sport being a force of empowerment for women (see Chapter 7) are totally ignored. Thus, we have an overemphasis on the extent to which sport is controlled by people in positions of power in capitalist society. And lastly, conflict theorists ignore the fact that sport and physical activity, even in a capitalist society, can still be personally creative, expressive, and liberating experiences for individuals. Functionalist and conflict theorists analyze sports and physical activity in society from its social structure. They do not provide a picture of the meaning of sport, fitness, and physical activity in the life of a person and the different needs of various groups in society. Through sport and physical activity, people do not only experience their world, they also form and create it and are formed in return.
These theories also ignore the complexity of social life and the struggles of what is important for different people in their lives. The theories that will pay attention to these facts are: critical, interactionist, as well as feminist and race theories.
Conflict Theory Conflict Theory Reviewed by mabelinter on mai 03, 2020 Rating: 5

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