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In political science, the term class conflict (also class struggle, class warfare, capital-labour conflict) identifies the political tension and economic antagonism that exist among the social classes of society, because of socioeconomic competition for resources among the social classes, between the rich and the poor. In the political and economic philosophies of Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, class struggle is a central tenet and a practical means for effecting radical sociopolitical changes for the social majority, the working class.
The forms of class conflict include direct violence, such as wars, for access to and control of natural resources and labour; assassinations and revolution; indirect violence, such as death from poverty and starvation, illness and unsafe working conditions; economic coercion, such as the threat of unemployment and capital flight, the withdrawal of investment capital; and ideologically, by way of political literature.
The political forms of class warfare include lobbying (legal and illegal) and bribery of legislators. The social-class conflict can be direct, as in a dispute between labour and management such as an employer's industrial lockout of their employees in effort to weaken the bargaining power of the corresponding trade union; or indirect such as a workers' slowdown of production in protest against unfair labor practices, low wages, and poor working conditions.