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Types of Conflict


Intra-Personal Conflict

This type of conflict regarded as ‘man against man’ conflict. This type of conflict is characterized by direct opposition between two or more persons. Such conflict may or may not always be violent. Under this type of conflict, holding grudges and keeping malice is considered as conflict. Such conflicts may not be glaring to a third party but the conflicting parties themselves understand that a state of discord exists between them.

Man against Society; Man against Nature

In ‘Man against Society,’ conflict arises when a person stands in opposition to existing man-made institutions or systems. This includes resistance to slavery, human trafficking, child prostitution, human rights abuses, bullying, corruption, bad governance, et cetera. ‘Man against Nature’ refers to a state of friction between man and his environment. Such forces of nature as heating, global climate change, rainstorm, hurricane, desertification, resistant malaria, killer insects, et cetera create a situation during which man battles with nature to beat and master it.

Family Conflict

This type of conflict occurs within the family unit. This type of conflict is usually owed to familial roles, expectations and role conflict. Examples include conflict between father and son, mother and father, husband and wife, brother and sister, cousin and cousin, nephew and uncle et cetera. Factors such as claims to seniority, disrespect, rudeness and lying may be the cause of such conflict. Extreme factors such as claim to land and property and inheritance disputes may also cause such conflict.

Inter-Group Conflict

The human ability and need to interact makes it possible for persons with similar interests, beliefs, ideals and values to come together to forms groups and create communities. However, from time to time disagreements or feuds occur within groups and communities. This type of conflict is known as inter-group conflict. Inter-group conflict therefore refers to contention between two or more religious groups, ethnic groups, interest groups or communities.

Intra-State Conflict

This type of conflict occurs within the confines of a sovereign state. It usually results from land disputes, uneven development, resource control and problems arising from revenue-sharing formula within a state. Factors such as differences in ethnic values, customs as well as perceived ethnic cleansing may be a cause of such conflict. In other cases, disputes arising from power-sharing, power rotation or zoning formula in public administration, lopsidedness in political appointments, among others, contribute to intra-state conflict.

Inter-State Conflict

Such conflict occurs between two or more states. It is also known as international conflict, and it usually arises from territorial disputes between states, breakdown of diplomatic relations, imposition of domestic policies which affect other states negatively such as ban as imports et cetera. In some cases such conflict degenerates into a state of war.

Global Conflict                                        

This may be mistaken for inter-state conflict in some cases, and although it also connotes international conflict, they differ. This type of international conflict transcends the sort which involves two or more sovereign states. It’s however instructive to notice that a conflict between two or more states could become a full-blown global conflict.

The Serbia-Austrian conflict of 1914 resulted within the First war. The German-British conflict of 1939 culminated within the Second war. There also are cases of worldwide conflict indirectly caused by states. The increase in terrorism has escalated to a worldwide conflict during which the entire world is battling with the scourge of worldwide terrorism and dealing together to fight it.



Classical Neo-Realism

The state or nation-state is the main actor in classical neo-realism. Its core objective is to preserve the state as an autonomous entity. This theory holds that conflict arising from political dominance is inherent to the nature of the state. Thus in pursuing national interest and political power, conflict may arise between states. In a nutshell, conflicts would ensue between nation-states when they are:

  1. Lack of trust among nation-states;
  2. Imbalance of power among nations or a powerful nation has lost resources and the capacity to maintain the balance of power; it could be that one power is increasing in power much faster than other powers in the same region or sub-region;
  3. Over-balancing and under-balancing of power;
  4. Lack of sufficient communication among nations;
  5. Poorly defined national interests; and
  6. The rise of modernisation or the shifting of power through its instruments.

Classical Liberalism

Theorising about liberalism begins at the level of domestic politics. Under this theory, domestic actors and structures are considered essential in influencing foreign policies, identities and interests of the state. Thus domestic elements such as institutions, systems and practices are considered crucial explanatory variables.

This theory presumes people to be essentially rational, ethnic and moral beings who possess the ability to control their baser impulse. The unit of analysis under this theory is first at the individual level. Therefore human rationality and morality are the core elements in forming and reforming institutions in order to find solutions to social problems. It postulates that politics may operate without conflict and that human nature is not necessarily bad or evil.

Another dimension of the liberal theory is its reflection on the bottom-up of analytical framework. In summary, it focuses on how the attitudes and actions of national actors are shaped by domestic groupings as strategic rational actors. It is assumed under this theory that there are not strict ideological discrepancy between the domestic policies and foreign policies of states as one is supposed to be a continuation of the other.

Finally, this theory holds democratic peace is the essential process which enables communities or individuals to deal with real or potential conflict situations. Thus elected representatives are held accountable by their constituents for all decisions (including foreign policy).

The Marxist Concept of Conflict 

The Marxist theory of conflict stems from Karl Marx’s economic theory, Marxism. The theory postulates that society is divided into two classes: the bourgeoisies who controls the wealth and instrumentality of the state; and the proletariat who are financially disadvantaged and excluded from the direct affairs of control of the state.

According to Marx, there is a constant struggle between these two classes, however he who is financially superior controls both the state and the poor, and that is how society is structured. The Marxist believes that the state itself is a product of uncompromising friction between the bourgeoisies and proletariat. Thus the design of the state is one that is ceaseless state of conflict.

In other words, the location of the conflict is in the structure of the capitalist economy and its power base. Social conflict between the two classes originates from the control and ownership of means of production and social relations of production.

In a nutshell, the Marxist views capitalism as exploitative and oppressive, and the antagonism between the bourgeoisies and proletariat finds its root in this exploitative and oppressive nature of capitalism. In extreme cases, such conflict might lead to a state of war or revolution against the state by the proletariat.

The Green Theory

This theory is part of the analytical tools of green development, which is a relatively new concern and debates and policies on the environment. An aspect of the green theory projected the environment as an issue that was interrelated with peace, anti-nuclear campaigns, women, global warming and economic growth. This theory advances the causes of the environment and its normative aspects emphasizes on the questions of social justice, rights, democracy, citizenship, the state and the environment. The sources of conflict under this theory include:

  1. The contradictions and dysfunctionality of the capitalist economy;
  2. The activities of humans related to the domination of nature at all costs;
  3. Lack of systematic linkage between development and the environment;
  4. Constraints of the State’s authority and sovereignty in addressing the environmental issues;
  5. Poverty, economic dualism (rural versus urban), and population growth without taking into account the finite limits of resources.

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