Social Conflict Theory and the Hunger Games
To maintain a sufficient society, the members of the population must abide by the accepted norms of behavior. In several instances, norms are typically enforced rather consistently. On the other hand, the rules that the society agreed upon are much more meaningful. They are arranged into laws, which are then executed by the government. In a totalitarian society, however, all the authority lies in the control of the ruling administration. The government itself decides what these norms are and enables control under any circumstances. The study of sociology can help one acquire a better understanding of society. In order to truly grasp this study, several theories arose, one of those being the Marxist conflict theory.
This concept certainly takes us to The Hunger Games trilogy. This astounding piece of science fiction illustrates social conflicts in capitalism, which is highly influenced by theorist Karl Marx. According to Marxism, “”conflict leads not only to ever-changing relations within the existing social structure, but the total social system undergoes transformation through conflict (Coser, 1957). This theory views conflict through a means of social class; it was believed that the ongoing disputes and disagreements between classes will eventually end capitalism and slowly break down the hierarchy to create more of a communist society. The Hunger Games, written by Suzane Collins, displays an accurate representation of social conflict theory and shows how conflict ultimately leads to deviance.
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The Hunger Games is a riveting novel that follows a young woman’s journey through a dreadful battle of what her society calls, “”a remembrance of their past and safeguard of their future (Collins, 2008). Panem is a country that is divided into twelve districts, which are ruled by totalitarian government located in the Capitol. Each district is required to randomly send one boy and one girl to take part in the media spectacle that is known as The Hunger Games, where there can only be one sole victor. At the reaping in District 12, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute to take her sister’s place, along with the male candidate, Peeta Mellark. When it comes to the closing of the game, Katniss and Peeta are the last two standing and they commit a final act of deviance by planning a double suicide; they intend to eat poisonous berries, so they do not have to compete for victory. This caused upheaval within the Capitol due to Katniss and Peeta insisting that they either both live or both die. The Capitol had no choice but to accept the terms of the ‘poor’, thus, defusing their power over them.
This fictional series is highly influenced by the Marxist-based social conflict theory along with the concept of deviance. In general, conflict theory is macro-level and aids in class relations. It states that “”society is a system of social inequalities based on class, gender, and race. Social inequality causes conflict that leads to social change (Macionis, 2017). Essentially, in conflict theory, deviant behavior is a framework that does not go along with social institutions. Deviance is based on obedience to and violation of social norms. This causes groups within society to develop a means or system of social control, which involves a process to enforce these norms. Individuals who violate these patterns face the danger of being labeled ‘deviant’. If certain classes within a social system differentiate their share of power, status, and wealth with that of the other groups, discontent is likely to ensue. Departures from what is required by the norms of the social institutions may occur if there are not institutionalized arrangements for the assertion of such discontent. Therefore, it will be quite simple to distinguish between those who are involved in the formation of distinctive patterns and new values systems and those individuals who depart from the norms of a society, which consist of mere deviation. The relationship between social conflict theory and deviance play a crucial role throughout The Hunger Games.
This novel serves as a means of social control on several levels. This occurs throughout the nation of Panem, among the twelve districts and between the inhabitants of the different districts. This brutal inequality breeds strife and creates the main conflicts of the novel, which can be related back to the Marxist conflict theory.
In Panem, wealth is heavily concerted in the hands of those living in the Capitol. The individuals involved in the Capitol cannot even begin to comprehend the lives of the poor. They believe that their intelligence is far superior, and these particular human beings are not even capable of having the same feelings due to them leading such drastically different lives. They take kids from twelve districts, “”forcing them to kill one another while we watch this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy (Collins, 2008). The Capitol not only creates but also reinforces inequalities among Panem’s districts. Order in this country is maintained by the power exercised by the Capitol. The interest of the Capitol and the majority of the twelve districts differs to an excessive degree. Conflict begins to occur due to this because “”there is never complete concordance between what individuals and groups within a system consider their just due and the system of allocation (Coser, 2007). It is evident that the Capitol uses power as well as coercion to exert influence along with control over the districts with the intention of producing social order.
Among the districts, District 12 is widely known for being the poorest. Most of the other tributes have had access to resources, allowing them to train for this profane competition. This greatly affects Peeta and Katniss’s chances in the arena. The setup of the game suggests that the drawbacks/disadvantages of being underprivileged tend to follow the poor even after they have left their initial circumstances behind. There is a great amount of inequality and injustice that exists among the twelve districts; the participants in the poor districts could not afford anything near that of what was offered in the Capitol. In order to survive, the heroine of the series was forced to hunt, which was illegal in this society. Conflict theory asserts that these types of economic inequalities and repression lead to deviant behavior, which is portrayed heavily in this scenario. Not everyone is equally able to achieve the goals of the society, therefore, some choose to adapt to deviant ways. The social conflict theory “”views crime as a function of the conflict that exists in society and suggests that conflict between social classes causes crime in generally any society (Bystrova and Cottschlak, 2015). The misdemeanor and deviance done by Katniss and Peeta are ensued primarily due to the conflict between the social classes. This conflict not only leads to the ever-changing relations within the existing social structure, but the entirety of the social system undergoes transformation through conflict.
Not only is conflict theory and deviance evident among the nation of Panem as well as the districts, but it is also a huge factor amidst the inhabitants. There can only be one sole winner of the Hunger Games, but when Katniss and Peeta become the final two they encounter the complication of them both wanting to survive. The Capitol makes it very clear that having two winners is absurd and one of them must die. The two depict deviance by telling the Capitol that they refuse to kill one another, and they will both die by eating poisonous berries. Showing that they are willing to end their lives rather than continuing with the game displays that both Katniss and Peeta have undermined social control. They have advertised to the Districts that there is, in fact, another way. The Capitol cannot let this act of resistance endure because their power will crumble. The Capitol, like any other totalitarian regime, fears the poorest and disadvantaged members of its population the most; they are the ones that hurt the status quo, and thus are most likely to rebel. The social conflict theory holds that the law enforcement and laws are used by the more dominant groups of society to diminish threats to their interests posed by those whom they perceive as threatening. Within a society, especially in that of Panem, “”crime is defined by legal codes and sanctioned by institutions of criminal justice to secure order in society (Bystrova and Cottschlak, 2015). The ruling class secures order by means of administration. Clashes and conflicts between social groups are not only stabilized, but also restrained by law enforcement. The underlying tension that arises within societies due to opposing interests stems from individuals in different positions, which ultimately leads to deviance.
The Hunger Games displays how two futuristic social classes grow farther apart and have different motivations, which essentially leads to conflict. The Marxist theory of conflict between classes is apparent in certain aspects of The Hunger Games. This is apparent through being part of the Capitol rather than belonging to a district, advantages certain districts have over each other, as well as the advantage of particular individuals involved in the same district. The intense amount of conflict throughout this novel is based on oppression and economic exploitation of the majority, according to the Marxist conflict theory. Marxists state that crime happens as a result of inequality and poverty. The “”inequalities and repression lead to deviant behavior (Bystrova and Cottschlak, 2015). Marxism suggests that this type of demeanor channels straying away from the norms and values of the government or dominant class considering they control the means of production and are the rules of society. Overall, The Hunger Games displays several examples of class conflict and the issues surrounding that. In the end, everyone is upset with the Capitol as well as the entirety of the system and a revolution does occur. However, this could have been stopped if the class conflict did not transpire, which ultimately deviance in any society.
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Social Conflict Theory and The Hunger Games. (2019, Sep 08). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/social-conflict-theory-and-the-hunger-games/