Presentation on Sociology. A Social Conflict. Part 2

People Quarrelling

Causes, Acuteness, Duration and Consequences of a Social Conflict

The reason for a conflict is the point around which a controversial situation unfolds. The following types of reasons can be singled out:

  1. The presence of opposite orientations. Each group has a certain set of value orientations relative to the most significant aspects of social life. All of them are usually opposite. This is not due to a person's desire to stand out for his or her personal opinion or to demonstrate knowledge that can discredit opinions of others. Although such a case cannot be ruled out completely, however, for the most part, it simply refers to too many opinions, judgments and views, the increasing number of which leads to a reduction in the probability of coincidence with those of other people. At the time of seeking the satisfaction of needs, in the presence of blocked targets several individuals or groups try to reach, opposite value orientations come into contact and can cause conflicts.

    Conflicts due to opposing value orientations are extremely diverse. The acutest ones arise where there are distinctions in culture, perception of a situation, status or prestige. Conflicts caused by opposing orientations can take place in various spheres of value orientations.

  2. Ideological reasons. Conflicts arising on the basis of ideological differences are a special case of a conflict of an opposite orientation. The difference is that a cause lies in an attitude to the system of ideas that justify and legitimize the relations of subordination, dominance and fundamental views among various groups. Correctly formed scheme of social interaction can serve as a mitigating factor only if it has sufficient authority among its own participants. If discontented people are enough to destabilize the system, this is already the proof of its inconsistency and need for change.
  3. Causes of a conflict are various forms of economic and social inequality. This type of reason is associated with significant differences in values. Inequality in distribution of values exists everywhere, but a conflict arises only due to such a magnitude of inequality, that is considered substantial. This can be compared to a gradient that shows the transition from black to white. If this transition is smooth, then this will not cause any criticism and questions, even if in its essence, the situation does not contribute to the triumph of justice. However, if the gradient disappears and we see a clear line between the two colors, there are questions and discontent.
  4. Causes of conflicts lie in the relationship between the elements of a social structure. Conflicts arise as a result of different places that structural elements occupy in society, a firm or an orderly social group. For this reason, the conflict may be related, first, to different goals pursued by people. Secondly, it is associated with the desire of one structural element or another to take a higher place in the hierarchical structure.

Any of the above reasons can serve as an impetus, the first stage of a conflict only in the presence of certain external conditions. What should happen to start a conflict so that a relevant reason could be actualized? Obviously, in addition to the existence of a cause of a conflict, there must be certain conditions around it that serve as a hothouse for a conflict.

Acuteness of a Conflict

When we talk about an acute social conflict, first of all, we mean a conflict with a high intensity of social clashes, as a result of which a large number of psychological and material resources are spent in a short period of time. For an acute conflict, direct showdowns are common; they occur so often that they merge into a single whole.

Acuteness of a conflict depends to the greatest extent on the socio-psychological characteristics of the opposing sides, as well as on a situation requiring immediate action. Absorbing energy from the outside, a conflict situation causes participants to act immediately, putting all their energy into collision.

Duration of a Conflict

Every individual has inevitably encountered conflicts of different duration in his or her life. It can be a short skirmish (between two individuals) lasting for few minutes, but it also may be a confrontation between different groups that lasts for several generations (religious conflict).

Studies of conflict situations show that protracted conflicts are undesirable under any circumstances.

Consequences of a Social Conflict

Consequences are very contradictory. Conflicts, on the one hand, destroy social structures, lead to significant expenses, and, on the other hand, they are the mechanism that contributes to solving many problems, rallying groups and ultimately serves as one of the ways to achieve social justice.

The ambiguity of people's assessment of consequences of a conflict has led to the fact that sociologists, who are involved in the theory of conflicts, or, as they say, conflictology, have not come to a common view on whether conflicts are useful or harmful for society. So many people think that society and its individual components develop as a result of evolutionary changes, and as a result, suggest that a social conflict can be only negative and destructive.

But there is a group of scientists, consisting of supporters of the dialectical method. They recognize the constructive and useful content of any conflict, as new qualitative determinants emerge as a result of conflicts.

Suppose that there are both disintegrative, destructive, and integrative, creative moments in every conflict. The conflict is capable of destroying social communities. In addition, an internal conflict destroys the group unity. Speaking about positive aspects of a conflict, it should be noted that a particular consequence of a conflict may be the intensification of group interaction.

A conflict can be the only way out of a tense situation. Thus, there are two types of conflict consequences:

  • Disintegrated ones that intensify bitterness, lead to destruction and bloodshed, intragroup tensions, destroy normal channels of cooperation, distract the attention of members of a group from pressing problems;
  • Integrative ones that determine the way out of difficult situations, lead to resolution of problems, strengthen group cohesion, lead to the conclusion of alliances with other groups, making the group understand the interests of its members.


Numerous forms of deviant behavior indicate a state of a conflict between personal and public interests. Such behavior is most often an attempt to withdraw from society, to escape from troubles and problems of everyday life, to overcome the state of uncertainty and tension through certain compensatory forms. However, this behavior is not always negative. It can be associated with the individual's striving for new, advanced things, attempt to define conservative matters, which prevent from moving forward.

Deep and complex processes in social crisis, transformation of the social structure, political and spiritual changes, social conflicts occur in society of a transition state.

The current crisis of society is one of the deepest and lasting one in our history. Conflicts cover all spheres of life. The most dangerous are conflicts in the political sphere, especially in the sphere of power, socio-economic and interethnic relations.

Understanding their nature, the causes of origin and development will help develop rules of conduct and ways of settlement to the mutual consent of the warring parties.

Sociological knowledge absorbed all the best that exists in the writings of previous generations of social thinkers. And it does not remain unchanged. At each stage of historical transformation, sociology finds ways for new directions that determine its progress.

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