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Conflict Theory vs. Empowerment Theory Western Kentucky University Conflict Theory vs. Empowerment Theory Conflict Theory originated from the great German theologian, Karl Marx. Many of the social beliefs that support and strengthen this theory have been rooted in the ideas of Karl Marx himself. He believed that it’s not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence which determines their stream of consciousness.

With this being the motto of this theory it’s easy to see that Marx believed that the social infrastructure of each man and woman determines their very place in the society in which they live, not the other way around. This theory believes that the determinate for each individual social life is the work the individual is doing, especially work that produces the necessities of life which are food, clothing, and shelter. Empowerment Theory has the same concept as the Conflict Theory; however, it has a completely different approach.

Empowerment is a process by which individuals and groups access their resources in order to better control their own lives. In doing this, they gain the ability to achieve their highest personal potential. This theory originated from the works of Solomon and Friere. It then grew out of social reform movements over time with the assistance of Jane Adams. The concepts of each theory have both some similarities and differences. Both Conflict and the Empowerment Theory have the concept that each individual directly affects his or her own social well being.

However, both have a different outlook as to how that is done. The Conflict Theory believes that humans have always seems to look out for themselves and done all they could to survive in society. Humans work and strive for the necessities of life, and everything else just falls into play with each person individually, whereas, the Empowerment Theory looks to use the same methods amongst groups. They address oppression, stratification, and equality, as social barriers, and they don’t blame for lack of resources and power.

They believe in taking action on all three levels of society (micro, mezzo, and macro) in order to better improve their own personal lives. On the micro level, this theory builds self efficacy, decreases self blame and adds personal consciousness. On the mezzo level, a newly empowered person would then work with others in making changes. They as a group would recognize their shared feelings and interests and would then begin to realize they aren’t alone. Finally, on the macro level, they believe they can make changes in society, particularly in politics in order to better benefit the social structure, which is the ultimate goal.

I feel there are many strengths to each theory and perhaps one big weakness for each theory individually. The weakness of Conflict Theory is that everyone may not contain the self strength, discipline, and knowledge needed to survive in a particular society. The weakness of the Empowerment Theory is that there is too much room for reliability on another’s strength and dedication towards a common goal. The strength of the Empowerment Theory comes from the combination of each individual working together in order have a “snowball” effect.

Having too many people relying on their neighbor to bear their weight as well will result in a system failure. Both theories have particular strengths as well, The Conflict Theory motivates the individual to pursue through trials in order to make it within a society and make change for that’s individual’s well being, and the strength of the Empowerment Theory comes from the unity that is formed in order to make change at macro levels of society. When applying these two theories to the Social Work Code of Ethics, three values come to mind.

The first is Value of Service: the socials worker’s primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems, the second is the Value of Dignity and Worth of a Person: social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of all persons and the last is the Value of Importance of Human Relationships: social workers recognize the importance of human relationships. These values apply to both theories. Both theories aim to better individuals in attempts to better a society as a whole.

They aim to teach respect and unity so that individuals can live peacefully and happily amongst each other in a society. I feel that both theories account for the influence of social privilege and social oppression. They both push the idea of social equality. Social privileges are in our everyday society. Nobody in our society is looked upon as “deserving” to live miserably. Everyone needs food, water, shelter, and clothing, however, not everyone is fortunate to have all or any of those things. Because of this, social workers are a big need in our society.

They are such a need because we as a society believe in those social privileges and strive to omit social oppression. Conflict Theory accounts for social privilege because it’s based on survival. It’s based on a individual looking out for his/herself by working hard and providing his/herself with shelter, food, water, and clothing. Also Karl Marx studied social conflict his entire life and wanted to reduce social inequality. The social conflict theory can be described as favoritism. Society tends to show favoritism to the prestigious members of that particular society.

Social inequality is shown throughout the world from situations of race, ethnicity, gender, and age. These factors may dictate wealth, schooling, power, and prestige. The social conflict paradigm views the patterns that benefit some people more than it would others, due to their social standings. Karl Marx was a sociologist who embraced the social conflict paradigm. Marx made his main goal to not just understand society but to reduce social inequality. Karl Marx devoted his life to explaining a contradiction in society.

That contradiction was “How in a society so rich, so many could be poor. ” The answer is social conflict. The Empowerment Theory deals with oppression in particular. One of the original beliefs in this theory is the fight against oppression itself. Empowerment Theory involves challenging oppression and making it possible for people to take charge of matters that affect them. It also focuses on power imbalances in the society. This semester I realized I rather work in the criminal justice field rather than practice social work as a career.

But Social Work is one of my minors and I’m sure I can incorporate all of the things I’ve learned in my classes into any job I take. If I was going to practice Social Work I do feel that I can use both of these theories. I feel that Conflict Theory can really help individuals dealing with personal issues that prevent them from living their lives to the fullest. It can really help people who are trying to find their way in life and/or still trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for.

The Conflict Theory would also help me to think critically about power imbalances in society and how they are sustained and about how legislation is passed. Now Empowerment Theory can really do a lot of good if I was going to be a community social worker. Using the empowerment theory and approach in my practice could allow a small project to become a community event or cause and could progressively turn into a national event or cause. I think if I can actually use the Conflict Theory with enough individuals and do it efficiently then it could spark different opportunities for me to use the Empowerment Theory.

By taking a group of individuals with similar causes and/ or needs and helping them develop into their own person with their own individual strengths then it would allow doors to open to make change within communities. Also for work with all oppressed groups and oppressions, empowerment approaches can provide additional insights and enhance my critical thinking. Using some sort of theory in your everyday practice is crucial in order to be successful social worker. Each theory has it’s own contribution to practice itself.

Conflict Theory contributes to the self-improvement of individuals. It concentrates on motive. The principles of Conflict Theory can help guide one’s critical thinking about the typical client’s position within the macro environment and the social worker’s position as well (page 33). Empowerment Theory has similar contributions but have different approaches. Empowerment links the clients themselves to resources in order to improve self-esteem and problem solving skills. It also links individuals to resources so they strive for their own independence and self worth.

Empowerment can be viewed as a major goal of social work intervention, as a process through which people reduce their sense of powerlessness and gain greater control over all aspects of their lives and their social environment (page 41). It focuses on individual strength as well as the strength of others, whereas, Conflict Theory really comes down to two sides, workers and owners, in which the owners exploit the workers. Empowerment Theory seems to still be around today and is still a theme in many of the social workers practice.

Since it has a more group oriented focus with such an impact at that level it becomes difficult to steer away from that. Conflict Theory has already hit its peak. Conflict Theory has only been employed by a small number of researchers. Some contemporary theorists don’t even see the Conflict Theory as having much impact on the field at all. I believe Conflict Theory coincides with my own values in very few ways. I like the push and drive to make it on your own without any excuses; however I don’t like the “owner over the worker” outlook on things.

I believe that can limit certain people from reaching their full potential. Empowerment Theory allows me to instill specific individuals in order to help them find their own personal drive, strength, and capabilities so that they themselves can make a change in their lives or their communities. I believe in equality and I believe in teamwork, and the empowerment theory allows me to assist clients not as someone who is over them (worker over owner perspective in Conflict Theory) but as someone who is more of a friend who’s drive is to see them improve.

Making Choices-Investing in Securities Markets;If you were thinking about investing in the securities markets, would you prefer individual stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs? Explain your choice by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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