This study will apply conflict theory as a sociological tool
to understand the emergence of the art movement known as abstract
It is clear, as Broom and Selznick point out, that society
and social dynamics are composed of both consensus and conflict.
If there were only consensus, there would be no change whatsoever in society, which is as much as saying that there would be
no movement, no life. On the other hand, if there were nothing
but conflict, society would simply not hold together, but would
come apart at the seams and deteriorate into chaos and anarchy
in short order. The change in society which gave rise to the
movement of abstract expressionism was the result of this clash
between conflict and consensus, between the relative harmony
which followed the madness of World War II, and the sense of
instability and anxiety which was let loose by the war and its
The conflict approach to the study and understanding of society is opposed to the consensus approach. The consensus approach holds that "major social change...come(s) rather slowly and to depend on large-scale shifts in attitude and belief.
Hence, consensus has a somewhat conservative overtone. ...The
conflict approach, on the other hand, holds that the most important aspect of social order is the domination of some groups by others, that society is best understood as an arena of actual and potential conflict, and that when things look peaceful, it
is only because someone is sitting on the lid. ...Conflict
theorists do not ignore consensus and belief, but they emphasize that popular attitudes are often sustained and manipulated by groups in power. They focus attention on who controls the communications media or the educational system and how these controls are used to induce acceptance of official doctrinesà" A conflict model "identifies the potential for change, especially the rise of new groups capable of challenging ...