Consensus Perspective, Conflict Perspectives
Functionalism is often referred to as consensus theory because it doesnt address
the issue of conflict in society, rather it projects an ideal picture of harmonious social
It emerged in Europe in the 19th century as a response to
what was perceived as a crisis of social order. This crisis seemed to be the result of two
The emergence of a new industrial society with its
subsequent loss of community poor working conditions, increase in crime, growth of
housing slums, poverty etc.
The French revolution
which suggested ideals of equality, happiness and freedom of the individual.
These historical conditions which were seen to approximate
a crisis of economic and political order thus gave rise to a very conservative type of
sociology which reflects a concern with the need for social order and integration. This is
necessary if the social and economic crisis was to be overcome and controlled.
Main ideas in Functionalism - The starting point of all
Functionalism is that all societies have certain basic needs - Functional requirements
which must be met if a society is to survive. Functionalists are therefore concerned with
the contribution the various parts of a society make towards those needs. All
Functionalism is concerned with the basic need and desirability for social order and
stability to prevail in society.
Explaining Social Order - In explaining the basis of social
order in societies the starting point for Functionalists is to look at whole societies and
not the individual; they explore the ways in which the various parts which make up a
society function to maintain social order.
Emile Durkheim - Emile Durkheim draws an analogy between the way a biological
organism works and society. The various organs of a living thing work together in order to
maintain a healthy whole in much the same way that various institutions in society work
together to produce social order.
Central Value System - Functionalists believe that the basis of an orderly society is the
existence of a central value system that imposes common values on all its members.
Therefore, when Functionalists look at the ways in which the various parts of society
contribute to bringing about social order they are mainly concerned with the ways in which
these parts help to perpetuate and maintain this common value system.
Talcott Parsons and Education
The family is the PRIMARY agent of SOCIALISATION - in the family we are judged on
particularistic terms - because we gain ASCRIBED status from the Family. That is to say we
are judged in terms of our status as brother, sister, daughter, son etc...
Education is the main SECONDARY agent of SOCIALISATION. In advanced industrial society we
are judged in terms of ACHIEVED status and universalistic values. That is to say we are
judged in terms of what we achieve and schools prepare us for this. At school our conduct
is measured against the universal school rules and our status is achieved through
Consensus perspective assumes that societies have an
inherent tendency to maintain themselves in a state of relative equilibrium through the
mutually and supportive interaction of their principal institutions.
In consensus theory social order and stability and social
regulation form the base of emphasis. In other words consensus theory is concerned with
the maintenance or continuation of social order in society
The consensus perspective approach also assumes that
effective maintenance of a particular form of society is in the common interest of all its
Sociological theories can be classified into 'consensus'
and 'conflict' perspectives. Consensus is a concept of society in which the absence of
conflict is seen as the equilibrium state of society based on a general or widespread
agreement among all members of a particular society. Conflict is a disagreement or clash
between opposing ideas, principles, or people-this can be a covert or overt
POLAND IN A POST-WASHINGTON CONSENSUS PERSPECTIVE
Maria Aggestam & Hans Falck, Lund University
Abstract: The Washington Consensus reforms of privatisation, liberalisation and
macroeconomic stability have, to a large extent, been implemented in Poland. The banks and
a majority of other state-owned enterprises have been privatised, and the trade structure
has been liberalised. It is argued that both the Polish government and the Bretton Woods
institutions have focused too narrowly on the goals and instruments of the Washington
We claim that in order for privatisation and liberalisation to yield sustainable results
and accelerate the integration of the Polish economy into the European Union they must be
accompanied by so called Post-Washington Consensus reforms. The Post-Washington Consensus
implies both broadened sets of instruments and goals such as the creation of competitive
markets and functioning financial systems. Furthermore, reforms aiming at the build-up of
human capital and the transfer of technology are essential for balanced economic growth
and development. In addition it is claimed that infrastructural reforms are important for
economic progress. However, as shown, the pace of implementation of the Post-Washington
Consensus reforms in Poland so far has advanced slowly. The slow implementation of these
reforms threatens to risk the continued convergence of the Polish and European economies.
ORGANIZING EVENTS: MANAGING CONFLICT AND CONSENSUS IN A POLITICAL MARKET SQUARE
Authors: LARSON M.; WIKSTRÖM E.
Abstract: Events are organized by several different actors with individual interests. In
order to perform the project task at hand, actors form relationships aimed at cooperation.
Relationships involve political processes, which can be understood from a consensus and a
conflict perspective. From the consensus perspective, mutual commitment, trust, and
conversation are important to build fruitful relationships. From the conflict perspective,
tensions, conflicts, and power games are considered unavoidable aspects of social
interaction, which create change and renewal. The findings suggest that processes within
project networks are predominantly based on either a consensus or a conflict perspective.
However, consensus and conflict are not to be regarded as poles apart. Instead, they are
intertwined and coexist in relational interaction. Actors use different strategies to
manage political processes, aiming at building either legitimacy or mutual commitment. -