Worker Exploitation in the Social Conflict Theory

The conflict theory suggests that the different social groups within the society are engaged in a constant struggle over the scarce resources and for dominance over each other. These struggles often take the form of wars, politics, negotiations, and many other forms of interest clashes. The major contributors to this theory were Karl Marx, Max Weber, and C. Wright Mills, who has made a parallel between economic conditions and their role in producing inequality and conflict in society. Despite the fact their theories were developed almost over a hundred years ago, they still remain valuable, as the mechanisms they described remain in place even now. The struggles between different social groups are still there, and those struggles breed inequality.

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For this paper, we are going to explore the article from The Sydney Morning Herald, called “Worker Exploitation is a National Disgrace” (Ferguson, 2016). It tells a story of Edwin De Castro, and his fellow foreign workers, who were hired by a recruitment company to work on a construction site in Narrabri. The conditions of labor were terrible – the workers had to work 60-70 hours a week and were forced to live in small shacks, often in numbers of six people per room. The payments were small and often withheld. The story appeared in the newspapers only after the contractor threw its workers out on the streets, without pay.

The story is a classic story of class exploitation. The construction companies often use unskilled foreign labor. This is due to it being cheap, and due to that social group being more vulnerable, and having fewer rights and security. These workers are vulnerable, which is the reason why they are exploited – and in most cases, the companies that do so are able to get away with it. A foreign worker, especially if his status in the country is illegal, will not go to the court to fight for their rights, due to their fear of expulsion from the country.

However, the core reasons behind the very existence of such a vulnerable group of people are purely economic. The majority of foreign workers come from low-economy countries, where it is hard to find a paying job. The difference between wages is often so significant that even the smallest salary in a rich country is often enough to feed an entire family in a poor one. Thus, the poor economic situation in countries such as the Philippines is the reason why workers like Edwin De Castro find themselves easy prey for greedy corporations.

As for my opinion on this issue, I believe that issues such as this one must not be left unnoticed in the 21st century. Due to the efforts of the sociologists, laborers, and activists in the early 20th century, the mass exploitation of the worker class was put to an end. However, as this article clearly shows, some companies and corporations would take any opportunity to do so again. They are using the most underhanded tactics in order to keep their crimes a secret. They must not be allowed to do so. However, I believe that conflict and exploitation could not be completely abolished from society, as it is built around competition. Any success a social group has more often than not is the result of a failure of another social group.


Ferguson, A. (2016). Worker Exploitation is a National Disgrace. The Sydney Morning Herald. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Worker Exploitation in the Social Conflict Theory." November 6, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Worker Exploitation in the Social Conflict Theory'. 6 November.

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