Theories Of Social Conflict

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Literature on conflict claims it righteous to be an inevitable disposition. Interaction, at any level of the social order; between individuals, within or among groups or organizations or at nations’ level, always have a prospective connotation of cropping up hostile attitudes of the interactants. Splinter groups interact in course of attaining their due objectives or get hold of certain resources. The relationship among the parties may become ill-assorted or inconsistent owing to the partially exclusive behavioral preferences of the diversified stakeholders, especially when they have differing set of norms, values and skills.
Conflict, though theme of today, itself is not a new topic under study. The topic has struck the human perception since
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For a better portrayal of the concepts let us have a brief outlook on the previous theories and some early concepts concerning social conflict:
The first ever theoretical know narrative about Conflict came from Plato (427–347 B.C.). Plato suggested that in a societal setting tension is hostile making conflict ‘inevitable’. A balance in society could be maintained only with appropriate leadership. “If a proper balance of the parts could be obtained, social conflict would be at a minimum. Each segment of society must know the part it must play and be guided in such a fashion that all segments work together in harmony” (Schellenberg, 1996, p. 89).
Moving ahead, John Dewey (1922-1957) significantly contributed to the theoretical literature on social conflict. According to Dewey, “Conflict is the gadfly to thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates us to invention. It shocks us out to sheep-like passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving” (p.
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He alleged that conflict in a society is ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘abnormal’. Society on the whole is integrated and functionally stable. Men are hostile by nature and have a soaring potential to hurdle the integration of society. On the contrary, Mills, 1959; Dahrendorf, 1959; Bernard, 1957 and Coser, 1956; presented the contrasting views about conflict as compared to Parsons.
In his book, ‘The Functions of Social Conflict’, Lewis Coser (1956) focused on the role of healthy conflict in the society. He showed the other side of the coin by expanding the Simmel’s view of embedded conflict in the society and particularly highlighted the positive facet of the trend.
His book has been quite influential in arousing the interest of social scientists in the phenomenon and escorted many scientists to advance the concept further. “His book was highly influential in reminding sociologists of ideas that had been central earlier in the century (in writings such as those of Park and Burgess and of Simmel), thus setting the stage for a remarkable rise in sociological attention to conflict in the period since then (Schellenberg, 1996, p.
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