Karl Marx (1818-1883) is considered a major pioneer of conflict theory. In fact, many figures in sociology calls him the master of conflict perspective.
The basis of Marx’s thought is about the massive exploitation which is considered as the prime mover of historical forces. Marx views the existence of class differences, one of which is caused by the industrialization project, and this is only the pursuit of economic gain.
The struggle of class society is a fundamental concept that was conceptualized by Karl Marx at that time. This was triggered by the condition of society at that time which was surrounded by industrialization in the 19th century. Industrialization gave rise to a class of workers and industrialists which in turn led to alienation.
The conflict perspective which is rooted in the thought of Karl Marx is recognized by sociologists as one way out so that it is very closely related to revolution. However, the conflict here is not meant to be a radical revolution, let alone to the point of spilling blood. Because, after all, Marx was a humanist.
In essence, conflict theory sees the existence of conflict and conflict in social systems. So, society will not always be in order. In this theory, different authorities are also discussed, which result in superordination and subordination.
The difference in the interests of these two things then creates a conflict. However, conflict theory itself also reveals that conflict in this social process is needed to create a social change, both in a negative and positive direction.
The conflict theory according to Karl Marx has long been ignored by sociologists. However, it was not until the 1960s that this theory was re-emerged. Some sociologists who have revived conflict theory include C. Wright Mills [1956-1959], Lewis Coser:  and others [Aron, 1957; Dahrendorf, 1959, 1964; Chambliss, 1973; Collins, 1975].
In contrast to functionalists who view the normal state of society as a static equilibrium, conflict theorists tend to see society as being in constant conflict within groups and classes.
Conflict theorists even claim that functionalists have failed to ask the “functionally useful” question, who is this aimed at. The harmonious balance referred to by functionalists is considered only beneficial for some people, while for others it is detrimental.
Conflict theorists view that a social balance as intended by these functionalists is a mere fantasy, because they are unable to explain how the dominant group exploits other groups and silences them.
In Marx’s theory, the existence of personal relations in production and social classes is seen as a key element that exists in many societies. Marx in Das kapital also argues that the social changes that are created are largely influenced by the existence of conflicts between the dominant class and the subordinated class.
The marxian-modern conflict strategy, which is mentioned by Stephen K Sanderson , is as follows:
- Social life is an arena of conflict or conflict within opposing groups.
- Various economic resources and political power are important, so various groups try to seize it.
- A typical consequence of this conflict is the division of society into economically determined groups and subordinated groups.
- The basic social pattern of a society is strongly influenced by the social conditions of the group which is economically a determining group.
- Conflicts and deep social conflicts that exist in various societies give birth to forces capable of driving social change.
- Because conflicts and contradictions are the basic criteria of social life, social change is also a common thing that often occurs.