Healthcare Sphere as Field of Work Based on Conflict


Conflict theory is one of the sociological theories that can be used in application to society’s various parts. Human society, as a whole, is understood as a complete system shaped by its smaller parts, a framework within which different people interact, fulfill their roles and live their lives. This overview is further supplemented by theories that seek to examine, explain, or contextualize the types of interactions that usually occur between subsystems. Conflict theory, then, uses the notion of conflict to define social, systematic, and hierarchical interactions. The main argument that conflict theory is based on is that interactions are defined by interests, not social values or norms (What is Conflict Theory? – Karl Marx, Never-Ending Competition, 2021). Each party in interaction is pursuing its interests, often creating conflicts that must be resolved. This is true for the healthcare sphere as well, where the conflict model helps to understand the relationship between patients, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals. Consideration of the healthcare sphere as the field of work based on conflict can illuminate possible issues it faces currently, as well as highlight the discrepancy between its primary goals and ways of accomplishing them.

Conflict Theory in Capitalism

The conflict framework of reference allows sociologists to understand the underlying reasons for conflict’s occurrence as well as to reflect on the possible motivations behind certain actions. In general, conflict theory can also be used to refer to the practice of seeing societal interactions through the lens of conflicting interests. This is most understandably reflected in Marx’s work, which devoted a significant portion of his writing to defining the conflict between the working class and the bourgeoisie. In a similar vein, other parts of society can also come to conflict in a capitalist system, go to the need to pursue their interests and individual gain above all else.

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Healthcare and Conflict

In a capitalist society, considerations of healthcare are similarly centered not only on ensuring the continued prosperity and wellbeing of the population, but also on amassing continuous profits. The main conflict, then, comes from managing the relationship between service profitability and affordability for the general public. Doctors work to safeguard and protect others, giving treatment and prescribing medicine, at the same time acting as an employee that must receive adequate compensation for their services. Pharmaceutical companies are most concerned with this interesting discrepancy, as they are responsible for the commodification of medicine (Lumen Learning, Introduction to Sociology). Using marketing, branding, and other promotional tactics, they re-shape medicine from a necessity of life to a commodity, something which can be bought and sold for a premium. Hospitals also find a way to monetize and differentiate between their treatments, as well as the options available to patients depending on their desire to pay. The accumulation of wealth by big companies that occurs as a result of this process then shapes the rest of the healthcare industry, its future trends, and the expectations of consumers. By creating a profitable business by providing necessary services to the public, the healthcare industry has effectively guaranteed its perpetual prosperity and growth.


In closing, it can be noted that conflict theory offers a fresh and important perspective on the sphere of healthcare. Like many other industries, the field has to manage its operation in a contradictory way, one which makes its continued existence a challenge in and of itself. The decision to organize healthcare delivery services and medical providers based on the accumulation of profit creates a conflict between the interests of the masses and those responsible for managing their health. The discrepancy, which can be recognized and understood by the conflict theory, impacts both the quality of healthcare provision and the ability of healthcare workers to fulfill their job obligations.


Lumen Learning (n.d.). Introduction to Sociology. Lumen. Web.

What is Conflict Theory? – Karl Marx, Never-Ending Competition. Corporate Finance Institute. (2021). Web.

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