Explain recent social movements using conflict theory.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whether or not one would like to agree with the movement, I think that the Tea Party movement is one social/ political movement that has utilized the social theory.  In this vision, Mills' argument of the "elite" or the "power brokers" have been cast as members of the government and the financial elite.  These particular forces have been seen as operating outside of the needs of the people, violating the general principles of democracy and popular sovereignty in the process.  The Tea Party has been able to use the conflict theory in a new manner to develop the platform that entrenched interests in national government are operating outside of the realm of what traditional American values are.  I think that in this light the Tea Party has been able to argue that the "haves" (individuals of economic and political power) are not paying attention to the needs of the "have nots" (predominantly working class Americans who have been impacted adversely by the recent economic crisis.)  The 2010 midterm elections have been a representation of the idea that "structural change" runs counter to the Status Quo, necessitating a recasting of these "outsiders" as actually serving as "agents of change."  The Tea Party Movement has been able to ensure that the voices for whom it speaks will have an active role in determining the course of both the Republican Party and the political process, in general.  This suggests that conflict theory can be appropriated by anyone or any group that feels they are being silenced by the Status Quo and wish to have their voice validated and heard.