Friday, January 28, 2011

The Functions of Social Conflict

The Functions of Social Conflict: By Lewis A. Coser
When I stated reading Tichenor, Donohue, and Olien’s classic studies on knowledge gap, I thought they were Marxists, because they used the concept knowledge gap to deal with the inequalities caused by mass media. They argued that the mass media had a function similar to that of other social institutions: that of reinforcing or increasing existing inequities. This really smells like Marxism.
But CC told me I was wrong. “ They have nothing to do with Marxism. A democratic society also asks for equalities.” He said. I have to admit that this is kind of stereotype I have towards the westerns who concern about the moral issues within the social structure. The subtext is that not everyone except the Marxists would concern about that in the capitalist society.
In Marxism, inequalities are really bad things. But in Tichenor, Donohue, and Olien’s opinion, inequalities are not so bad. They quoted Lewis A. Coser many times, which indicated that they agreed with Coser ideas on social conflicts. For Coser social conflicts functioned as vaccines to the society. To some extend, social conflicts would make the society stronger. So, the knowledge gap and the inequalities caused by mass media may not bad things.

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