Conflict theory Summary

Lord Acton statement, (Bernard, Snipes & Gerould, 2010) “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, elicits mixed reactions from scholars and lay persons alike. While conflict theorists support his view on crime, consensus theorists hold an opposing view. According to consensus theorists, states make rules that are meant to integrate all members and enhance peaceful coexistence.

Consequently, those who break the rules are seen as deviants. On the other hand, conflict theorists hold that states represent and protect the interests of the powerful people. In my view, I strongly support proponents of conflict theory of Cand Lord Acton statement.

Heated public debates and extensive media coverage given to arrests and trials of powerful and wealthy individuals are clear indications that societies do not expect the mighty to clash with the law. Ironically, when a poor person is convicted for the same offence there is little or no debate at all.

Additionally, less powerful persons are more likely to clash with law enforcing agencies as they seek to challenge the status quo. As noted by Karl Marx (1971), the struggle for control of resources will see the less privileged being termed as offenders.

Reports of peaceful demonstrators majority of whom are poor being killed by police are not uncommon. States discriminate against the less privileged when it comes to seeking justice in courts of law. Wealthy and powerful persons are able to hire lawyers, pay fines and bonds and even challenge court ruling through appeal when convicted of criminal offences. These services are not easily available to the less privileged persons.


Bernard, T.J., Snipes, J.B., & Gerould, A.L. (2010). Vold’s Theoretical Criminology 6th edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Marx, Karl. (1971) Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Tr. S. W. Ryanzanskaya, edited by M. Dobb. London: