What is different between conflict theories and previous sociological theories are that it theorizes that society evolves based upon conflicts between its groups, rather than striving to mend rifts such groups. Although societal order and peace may be a good thing, it is not inherent to the human, historical condition — or so suggests conflict theory. Its view of human nature thus tends to be cynical rather than positive or cohesive. It counsels one to “think of people as animals maneuvering for advantage, susceptible to emotional appeals, but steering a self-interested course toward satisfactions and away from dissatisfactions.
” (Collins, 1974, 56-61) Despite its negativism, the theory has proved a useful sociological tool for economists, because of its acceptance of scarce material resources as a driving human motivational factor, rather than internal psychology, as well as for analysts of criminal behavior, and other situations where human beings are in a state of polarized group vs. group conflict and disorder.
Collins, Randall. (1974) Conflict Sociology. New York: Academic Press. Retrieved online 27 Jan 2005 at http://www2.pfeiffer.edu/~lridener/courses/COLLINR1.HTML.