Sykes identified three key factors and events associated with them to explain the emergence of conflict theory in science and its spread. These factors are associated with a change in the United States’ political context, which led to people’s doubts and criticism of authorities’ decisions and words. These factors distinguished by Sykes are the influence of the Vietnam War, the rise of the counterculture, and anti-discrimination movements.
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All three factors made by the author relate to distrust or dissatisfaction of society with the authorities’ actions. The Vietnam War has been one of the most disastrous for the United States as American citizens condemned military interference, which heightened their doubts about government policy and its representatives (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2018). At the same time, this war affected even those Americans who were not directly related to the fighting, since peaceful protests against US intervention swept the country, and the government tried to fight them with disinformation and violence.
The rapid growth of counterculture also began in the country, which intensified the conflict of values. Some people’s practically harmless behavior was considered criminal; for example, fornication, vagrancy, and drug use (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2018). This fact caused anger among the population, and representatives of the counterculture intensified conflict with the authorities by showing such behavior. Another factor was the strengthening of anti-discrimination movements, especially African Americans who wanted to eliminate segregation. The only way to achieve people’s rights was through open disobedience, protests, and riots that would draw attention to the problem. This approach has also increased the conflict in society and between citizens and the state. Consequently, scientists needed to understand the origins of emerging conflicts and ways to resolve them, which led to the creation of the theory of conflicts.
Lilly, J.R., Cullen, F.T., & Ball. R. A. (2018). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (7th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications