The Position of Comics in Society

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・MLA ・5 Sources

The media in western culture has moved online, and the consumption of newspapers is declining. However, the use of comics in conveying facts continues to pique the public's attention in a variety of newspapers and books. For several decades, comics have been used in books and publications as an imaginative way of acknowledging people's views, recent affairs, and amusing fans by keeping them up to date with society's pressing issues. Comics allow fans consider the writers' or artists' perspectives on societal issues. Social tension is one of the cultural problems depicted in comics. Social conflict refers to the struggle for power or agency in society, and it often occurs when two or more groups or actors oppose each other in social interaction. The opposing groups usually exert their social powers with the aim of taking control of the scarce resources or attaining incompatible goals and preventing the opponent from achieving the same. This paper explores the issue of social conflict in the American society as represented by the Maus and superhero comics.

The issue of social conflict affects any society around the world and addressing it forms the foundation of lasting peace and harmony in the society. Social conflict is presented in comics due to its complexity and the need sensitize the general public on its causes, effects, and possible solutions. Besides, the theoretical exploration of social conflict does not attract the attention of big audiences and the use of comics, therefore, makes it easy for every member of the society to get sensitized on the issue.

Maus is a comic by Art Spiegelman which tends to educate readers, both students, and the general public, on the importance of understanding the society and its diversity as a means of avoiding social conflicts. The use of Maus comics has been embraced by historians in classrooms as a standardized way of engaging students on pressing societal issues such as social conflicts (Smith, 2015). Students who read Maus comics tend to develop the interest of reading other related materials, a practice which makes them understand their society and avoid practices that might fuel social conflicts in the society. The Maus comic is focused on war and politics in the American society, with biographical narratives aimed at informing the readers of the history of social conflict in the American society, as well as sensitizing them on the need for peaceful coexistence. Besides, Maus comic brings into focus the voice of the groups or individuals directly affected by various historical conflicts (Smith, 2015).

On the other hand, the superhero comic aims at resolving the basic social conflicts and contradictions in the contemporary American society. The mission of superhero comic is selfless and prosocial, and the superhero has a costume that symbolized a heroic identity which offers an intergenerational dialogue between the artists and the readers, thus bringing the attention of the society to the need of maintenance of peace and avoidance of social conflicts (Aiken, 2010). The superhero comic tends to be unique as it relies on a continuous shared narrative that relates social events, such as conflicts, with people in the society. It, therefore, allows the readers to identify themselves with the characters, as well as their internal narrative of the history of social conflicts (Aiken, 2010). Additionally, the superhero's narrative universe and diverse origins provide the readers with the opportunity to better understand their identity, power, and culture in the American society, thus sensitizing them on the importance of embracing each other and avoiding social conflicts (Aiken, 2010).

One of the scholarly sources that explore the issue of social conflict in the American society is an article by Buur Lars titled "Sovereignty, Riots, And Social Contestation: Access and Domestication." Buur gives a clear connection between imagining future and social conflicts in the contemporary American society (Buur, 2015). According to Burr (2015), the formation of a new brand of military futurism tends to shape the development of social policy in the United States. To ensure peaceful social coexistence, the security planners have tried to bridge the gap between the contemporary challenges of social conflict and the imagined threats of the future. Besides, Buur, emphasizes that the issue of social conflicts has a long history in the United States and offers a special exploration of the means and ways in which Americans have dealt with complications of social conflicts (Buur, 2015).

Another scholarly source that explores the issue of social conflict in the American society is an article by Ditlmann Ruth, Samii Cyrus, and Zeitzoff Thomas titled "Addressing Violent Intergroup Conflict from the Bottom Up." The authors depict warfare as an essential tool for understanding the American thinking about social conflicts. Besides, the authors provide a continuously updated interpretation of American negotiation between ideology, technology, and corporatism related to nationhood and peaceful social coexistence. The authors offer a ready-made tool for exploring several issues relating to social conflicts and domestic politics in the American society and gives the readers an opportunity to evaluate such ideas in the context of the current state of social coexistence in the United States (Ditlmann, Samii, & Zeitzoff, 2017).

An article by Troy Gibson and Hare Christopher titled "Moral Epistemology and Ideological Conflict in American Political Behavior" is another scholarly source that further explores the issue of social conflict in the American society. The authors aim to promote and sensitize an educated American citizenry on the importance of defending the country in the current society increasingly confronted by conflicting ideas and authoritarian leaderships that may fuel social conflict among the American people (Gibson & Hare, 2015). The authors also provide a clear proof of American enlightenment and military capability of ensuring peaceful coexistence in the American society. Besides, the authors have an anti-communist and anti-social conflict stance in the context of the contemporary American society (Gibson & Hare, 2015).

The depiction of the issue of social conflict in the American society by the scholarly sources is a bit different from the representation in the comics. The scholarly sources focus on influencing the people's perception of social conflict by highlighting the dynamic social, political, and economic forces for shaping their collective social experience. On the other hand, comics present a unique opportunity for engaging the students and the general public on the issue of social conflict in the American society through eliciting active cognitive engagement and participation with a broad social accessibility. Besides, while the scholarly sources provide a theoretical view of the state of social conflict in the American society, the comics blend the experience of visualizing images and reading texts to create the audience’s narrative experience of the issue.

Exploring the issue of social conflict in the American society is of great importance because it gives Americans the opportunity to examine the history of the United States on different levels, as well as explore their identity and nationalism. Besides, exploring the issue of social conflict in the American society gives Americans the opportunity to understand the significance of peace and harmony as a means of ensuring stability and order in the society.

Social conflict in the American society has a long history dating back to the first phase of the country’s history when the United States attempted to isolate itself from various foreign conflicts. However, during the 1900s, the United States took part in in the world wars, emerging a global super power, and eventually becoming an enemy of various world communities (Buur, 2015).

In my view, social conflict is an issue that needs to be addressed not only in the American society but also in the rest of the world. Creating a proper understanding of diversity and the need to embrace one another’s social differences form the foundation of peaceful coexistence in every society around the world. A society deprived of peace and harmony will certainly find itself into social conflicts, thereby returning to the era of oppression where the dominant groups in the society prey the minority. Therefore, both the comics and scholarly sources have presented good approaches to the issue of social conflict since they both aim at informing the society of the need for peaceful coexistence. People should, therefore, make use of both media in acquiring information regarding the societal well-being.


Aiken, K. (2010). Superhero History: Using Comic Books to Teach U.S. History. OAH Magazine of History, 24(2), 41-47.

Buur, L. (2015). Sovereignty, Riots, and Social Contestation: Access and Domestication. Conflict and Society, 1(1).

Ditlmann, R., Samii, C., & Zeitzoff, T. (2017). Addressing Violent Intergroup Conflict from the Bottom Up? Social Issues and Policy Review, 11(1), 38-77.

Gibson, T., & Hare, C. (2015). Moral Epistemology and Ideological Conflict in American Political Behavior. Social Science Quarterly, 97(5), 1157-1173.

Smith, P. (2015). Spiegelman Studies Part 1 of 2: Maus. Literature Compass, 12(10), 499-508.

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