What is Conflict?


Social conflict is a relationship between two or more people who believe they have incompatible goals. It is a form of competition. Conflict occurs in what Adam Curle calls an unpeaceful relationship. An unpeaceful relationship exists whenever a individual's potential development, mental or physical, is held back by the conditions of the relationship.

For example, a nuclear family which has had no previous communal experience decided to move into a communal household. The husband expected to maintain traditional gender roles in that he expected his wife to cook, clean, and emotionally care for him. The woman and the other members of the house had different ideas; they expected everyone to share equally in house maintenance tasks and to share emotional support for each other too. The man in this situation clearly was in a conflict with other members of the house.All the people involved believed that they had incompatible goals. The conflict also illustrates an unpeaceful relationship in which the woman was held back from her potential development by her husband's belief and practice of societal gender roles. There was a conflict of goals in that the woman needed the time which she would have to spend on her husband's upkeep for her own development, and she needed him to be responsible for himself. He, on the other hand, did not want to take the time to be involved in doing house maintenance chores ( and also in this case, he did not feel skilled in cooking). Because he was unwilling to cooperate he was being held back in his relationships with other house members as well as maintaining oppressive gender roles.




Sources: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Susanne Terry, The Training/Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society

Recommended Books:  Building Social Change Communities