In previous articles, we started talking about a conflict, but this topic is so vast that we can describe it for a very long time, and it will not still be exhaustive. So, you can easily use it as a topic for your presentation. If you want, you can use visual materials and even statistical data for the sake of representativeness of facts that you mention in your text.
The Starting Point
The analysis of conflicts must begin with an elementary level, with the very origins of conflict hotbed. Traditionally, it starts with a structure of needs, the set of which is specific to each individual and social group. All these needs can be divided into five main types:
- Physical needs (food, material well-being, etc.);
- Security needs;
- Social needs (communication, contacts, interaction);
- Needs to achieve prestige, knowledge, respect, a certain level of competence;
- Higher needs for self-expression and self-affirmation.
Surely, you will recognize Maslow's hierarchy in this enumeration. All human behavior can come down to a series of elementary acts, each of which begins with a violation of equilibrium because of the emergence of a need and a meaningful goal for an individual, and ends with the restoration of equilibrium and achievement of a goal. Any interference (or circumstance) that creates an obstacle or a break in the action of a person, already begun or planned, is called a blockade.
In the event of a blockade, an individual or a social group needs a reassessment of the situation, decision making in conditions of uncertainty, and finally setting new goals and adopting a new strategy.
In this situation, everyone tries to avoid blockade, seeks indirect paths, new effective actions, as well as reasons why it happened. Facing an insurmountable difficulty can be ascribed to frustration, that is usually associated with stress, displeasure, turning into irritation and anger.
The reaction to frustration can develop in two ways: it can be either retreat or aggression.
Retreat is avoiding frustration by short-term or long-term refusal to meet a specific need. Retreat can be of two types:
- Containment – a condition in which an individual refuses to satisfy any need because of fear;
- Suppression – avoidance of goals realization under the influence of external coercion, when frustration is pushed inward and may come out in the form of aggression at any time.
Aggression can be directed at another person or group of people if they are the cause of frustration. In this case, aggression is of social nature and goes together with states of anger, hostility, or hatred. Aggressive social actions trigger a reciprocal aggressive reaction and the social conflict begins from here.
Thus, for the emergence of a social conflict, it is necessary:
- That the cause of frustration be behavior of other people;
- That aggressive responsiveness arise on an aggressive social action.
All conflicts can be classified according to the zones of disagreement as follows:
- Intergroup conflict;
- Of affiliation;
- With external environment.
Any social conflict has a complex internal structure. Analysis of content and characteristics of its course is expedient to be carried out in three main stages:
- A pre-conflict situation;
- Conflict as such;
- Conflict resolution.
A Pre-Conflict Situation
No social conflict occurs instantaneously. Emotional tension, irritation and anger usually accumulate for some time; the pre-conflict stage is sometimes delayed so much that the root cause of a collision is forgotten.
The pre-conflict stage is a period in which the conflicting parties assess their resources before deciding to take aggressive actions or retreat.
Initially, each of the conflicting parties is looking for ways to achieve goals of avoiding frustration without affecting the opponent. This moment in the pre-conflict stage is called identification.
This stage is also characterized by the formation of a strategy or even several strategies by each of the conflicting sides.
Conflict as Such
This stage is characterized, first of all, by the presence of an incident, i.e. social actions aimed at changing behavior of an enemy. This is an active part of a conflict.
Actions that make up an incident can be different. They can be divided into two groups, each of which is based on specific behavior of people.
The first group includes actions of rivals in a conflict that is of an open nature (verbal debate, economic sanctions, physical impact, political struggle, etc.)
The second group includes hidden actions of rivals in the conflict. The main action in the hidden internal conflict is reflexive management. This is the method of management when grounds for making a decision are transferred by one of the conflicting sides to another. One of the rivals tries to convey and introduce into consciousness of another such information, which makes the latter act in a way that is beneficial to the one who transmitted this information.
An external sign of conflict resolution may be completion of the incident. Yes, completion, not temporary cessation. Elimination, termination of the incident is a necessary, but insufficient condition for the settlement of a conflict. Often, after stopping active conflict interaction, people continue to experience frustration, searching for its cause. And then the faded conflict breaks out again.
Resolution of a social conflict is possible only if the situation changes. This change can take on many forms. But the most effective change in a conflict situation, which allows escalating the conflict down, is elimination of its causes.
It is also possible to resolve a social conflict by changing requirements of one of the parties: the rival makes concessions and changes aims of his or her behavior in a conflict.
Conflicts can take on many forms – from a simple quarrel between two people to a major military or political clash involving millions of participants. There are four basic parameters to all conflicts:
Conflictology has developed a number of recommendations, following which we can accelerate the process of conflict resolution:
- During the negotiations, priority should be given to the discussion of substantive issues;
- The parties should strive to alleviate psychological and social tension;
- The parties must demonstrate mutual respect for each other;
- The negotiators should strive to turn a significant and a hidden part of the conflict situation into an open one, transparently revealing each other's positions and consciously creating an atmosphere of public equitable interchange of views;
- All negotiators should show a tendency to compromise. A compromise is a way of resolving a conflict when the conflicting parties realize their interests and goals by either mutual concessions, or concessions to the weaker party, or to the party that managed to prove the validity of his or her claims to the one who voluntarily renounced part of his or her claims.
The final post-conflict stage is of great importance. At this stage, efforts should be made to finally eliminate contradictions of interests, goals, attitudes, eliminate social and psychological tension and stop any struggle. A resolved conflict promotes the improvement of social and psychological characteristics of both separate groups and intergroup interaction. It promotes the cohesion of groups, raises the level of identification of its members with common goals and satisfaction in a group. At the same time, it develops a respectful attitude to former opponents, allows to better understand their interests, goals and motivations.
We will continue our examination of this topic in the next part of this article.