Trying to reduce a complex social interaction to a general theory, as Dahrendorf states, leads to empty generalizations or to empirically unjustifiable oversimplifications. With this in mind I limit this discussion of social conflict in the United States, specifically from the beginning of the Bush Jr. Administration, noting that an analysis based on Huntington’s theory – largely the disposition of the Neoconservative agenda, which I will discuss in more detail – would make for an interesting discussion. As I hope to show, the social structure of the US closely resonates with the key points highlighted in Dahrendorf. Additionally, while I do believe there is valuable information to be obtained through a psycho-social analysis of this, or any social structure, I think Dahrendorf’s limitation on endogenous conflicts as “the task of sociology to derive conflicts from specific social structures” points out most of the main functional relationships of the two dichotomous models of society along with the principle of authority and authority structures. These aspects of the Conflict Theory model and, what I would call the general tendency toward a neo-totalitarian state are the main points of my argument.
An important aspect, and precondition, of the Conflict Theory model is that it is intended to be ‘crafted’ to suit the needs of a particular conflict and therefore avoids generalizations and oversimplifications. Further, it considers the trajectory of the system and therefore, through empirical research, attempts to establish a reasonable set, or multiplicity, of parameters to evaluate the system and the relative intensity of each parameter in the specific context. As Dahrendorf points out, “it is erroneous to assume that a description of how elements of a structure are put together in a stable whole offers, as such, a point of departure for structure analysis of conflict and change .” Such an approach can tends to eliminate many of the assumed structural and functional relationships that may lead to incorrect interpretations of empirical data and eliminates the difficulties of distinguishing between intended and unintended outcomes and relies more on the scientific method of matching empirical evidence with stated hypotheses.
II. Critical Evaluation of Key Points
I will highlight the key points of Dahrendorf’s Social Conflict Model as presented in lecture at the World Peace Academy by Dr. Jürgen Endres.1 Beginning with dichotomous models of Integration and Conflict, as listed in Table 1, it is important to note that these
two contrasting models form what I would consider to be a canonical set of mutually induct and mutually restrictive pairs. This is to say that these two aspects of society are, in the case of the Unites States at least, intertwined and are the impetus for change itself.
There is always a very progressive element of society which is met with a more conservative element and the more, for example, the indicators of Conflict become dominant, the more their tends to be a reaction by the more conservative elements of society. This explains the oscillation from Democratic to Republican parties controlling the three branches of government. However, there is an added layer which, according to Dahrendorf, would be the real progenitor of the social dynamic – namely, that the real holders of authority in the United States take advantage of the Conflict/Integration dichotomy as a strategy to divide and conquer the US population while the laws and regulating freedom, liberty and justice are slowly manipulated and normalized into totalitarian state.