Class Conflict: History, Important Terms, Features, Result and Critics

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  • Adam Smith ″ The Wealth of Nations
  • Free economy


  • Use of capital and machines to maximize profit
  • Better wages for workers
  • Best products for consumers at competitive price


  • Concentration of wealth in the hands of few
  • Suffering of workers
  • Unemployment
  • Long working hours
  • No guarantee of minimum wages
  • No provision for health, education
Reality vs Expectations
  • These were the results of capitalism
  • Marx considered this as the base of a study in Europe
  • When the working class was at the last of the receiving end of capitalism

Important Terms

  • Class: Group of individuals who have common relationship with the mode of production, they can be ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’
  • Surplus production: When production amounts to more than consumption
  • Class conflict: When one class tries to deteriorate the other with the intention
  • Class in itself: When a class is not organized and no unity
  • Class for itself: When the classes are aware and organized and fight for common cause
  • Petty bourgeoisie: Self-employed small businessman like shopkeeper cottage industry et cetera
  • Socialism: Dictatorship of the proletariat no private property but state exists
  • Communism: No social institution
  • Cash nexus: Purely money based relationship
  • In his Book: The Communist Manifesto
  • “Hitherto the history of class is history of struggle”
  • From classless society to making of class
  • Primitive communism
  • Surplus production
  • Authority on surplus produce gave birth to haves and have nots
  • Existed in feudal society too as feudal and slaves
  • The have nots were not organized in a class in the primitive society they were just a class in itself or pseudo class
  • So, no conflict only antagonistic relationship

Industrial capitalist society saw heights of exploitation.


  • Production for profit
  • Machines
  • More employees
  • Cash nexus
  • Complex division of labor


  • Have nots at last gained consciousness- class for itself
  • Marx predicted proletariat revolution
  • When they win the working class will establish socialism
  • No private property no state no class. It will be classless egalitarian society where everyone will get according to their needs and everyone will work according to their interest this is known as theory of ″ Class and Class Conflict ′ .


  • Max Weber said, “I do not see any possibility of a revolution.” The problem will be solved only by talks
  • Ralph Dahrendorf predicted no polarization of working class
  • Lenin said without outside influence or intellectual leadership polarization of the poor cannot take place itself
  • Only exploitation of the working class isn՚t reason enough for revolution there are many other cases causes like Government, corruption, moral bankruptcy of ruling class etc.
  • According to Anthony Giddens, communism is a utopia.


Q. 1. According to Dahrendorf, Marx՚s Theory of Class Conflict is

(A) to be rejected universally

(B) to be accepted universally

(C) to be accepted and modified generally

(D) to be rejected, accepted and modified contextually

Answer: (D)

Q. 2. Some assumptions are given below:

The definitional assumption (s) about class and class conflict in the Marxian theory is (are)

(i) Every society is based on a degree of economic equilibrium.

(Ii) Class inequality is due to inherent political and social injustice.

(Iii) Class conflict is inherent in society.

(Iv) Economic inequality lies at the core of class conflict.

(V) Cass conflict is resolved through class alliance.

Select correct assumptions from the following:

(A) (i) and (ii)

(B) (i) , (ii) and (iii)

(C) (ii) , (iii) and (v)

(D) (iii) and (iv)

Answer: (D)

Q. 3. Identify the correct logical order as explained by Karl Marx:

(A) Class-in-itself, class-for-itself, social transformation, class conflict

(B) Class-in-itself, class-for-itself, class conflict, social transformation

(C) Class-in-itself, class conflict, class-for-itself, social transformation

(D) Class-for-itself, class conflict, class-in-itself, social transformation

Answer: (B)




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