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Types of Conflict

Types of Conflict

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the range of ways conflict can occur in the world.

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What causes conflict? Is there any way we can look at the conflict we see in the world and find ways to categorize it, perhaps help us understand it better? Well, my name is Marlene. And in this tutorial, I'd like to examine the variety of ways, the wide range of ways conflict happens in the world.

There are basically five ways that we can categorize conflict, five different types. Now, the first type is called data-based conflict. And here it is, data-based conflict. This is conflict based on inadequate access to, distribution of, or interpretations of information by parties.

So what exactly does that mean? Well, let me give you some examples. This could happen at work.

Perhaps you need a report that you need to finish. And you don't have access to the correct information. You're waiting for it. That can lead to conflict.

Or perhaps once you get the information, you take a look at it and you say, well, I don't understand where you got these conclusions. Where do these numbers come from? In other words, you disagree with the interpretation of the information that you've just received. So that's an example of a data-based conflict.

Now, we can see this kind of conflict in a larger perspective in the world. During 2008, when we had the housing market drop, there were a lot of people pointing fingers at unscrupulous lenders and bankers, because of how they collected information and how they distributed it to unsuspecting customers. So we had a data-based conflict there, along with a lot of other kinds of conflict that went on in that whole period.

So let's move on to our second kind of conflict. And this would be relationship-based conflict. So I'm going to move this right over here.

And let's talk about relationship-based conflict. Now, these conflicts are based on the relational patterns between parties, the relational patterns between parties. Now, you can look at relational patterns in a couple of different ways.

First of all, there are kinds of relationships, natural kinds of relationships. There's parent-child relationship, where you have certain power and authority and rights already built into the relationship. You have the same thing with employer-employee.

So within a parent-child relationship, for example, it's quite natural for the parent to be able to tell the child, go clean up your room. Yes, you can go out. No, you can't go out. Go do your homework. You have that kind of structure already set up within the relationship.

However, even within relations like that, or any kind of relationship we have, there are various types of patterns that may occur. For example, you may find that you are working with somebody who's very organized. Everything has to be very structured. Everything's in its place. Everything has a file.

And if you are somebody who is not quite that structured, perhaps you have piles of paper on your desk. You always know where things are but they're just always in piles. You're a little bit more loose, maybe a little bit more messy. That can lead to conflict with the person you're sharing an office with.

Or perhaps you're planning a vacation with somebody who likes to plan ahead and have everything methodical and know exactly what's going to happen. And the other person is a little more spontaneous. Let's fly by the seat of our pants, see what happens when we get there. So those are relational patterns that could potentially lead to conflict. So relation-based conflict. I'm going to move this one aside.

And we're going to move on to interest-based conflict. So interest-based conflict, now this is conflict based on unmet needs. So those unmet needs, there could be a variety of ways that this manifests. For example, time might be a need.

You're a researcher. And you really need more time in order to finish the research and really feel confident about it. But you're working for a company that says, no. We've got to get to market. You've got to meet this deadline. So there is different needs here around time.

It could be around money. You would like to save money to plan for a vacation. You've been looking forward to a vacation. You work hard.

Your partner wants to save that money in order to buy a new car. So you are fighting about exactly what to do with this extra money you have. So those are interest-based conflicts.

So let's move on to our next kind of conflict. This would be a structural conflict. Now, a structural conflict is a conflict that is based on external forces that impede a party's goals or exercise of their rights.

Now, a structural conflict is something I think we've all come in contact with when we have a lot of policies or procedures that we have to wade through. It's quite common with something we all call red tape. People run into it if they're trying to adopt a child. Maybe they're applying for veterans' benefits.

We also see structural conflicts of course on a wider scale, a grander scale. This happens quite often within nations where people feel like their rights are being constricted by government. This has led to the American Revolution. Just recently, we've seen the Arab Spring. So these are examples, two examples of structural conflict.

Now, the last conflict that we want to talk about is values-based conflict. So what is values-based conflict? Well, values-based conflict is conflict based on a parties' differing or incompatible perceptions of what is morally right or wrong. Now, typically when people are holding these values, the goal is not to have to-- you aren't going to try to change someone's values. But you want to understand what's beneath them.

Here are some examples of values. People may believe that gay marriage is perfectly fine. And other people believe, no, this is morally wrong. It's a sin. You may have people supporting the death penalty feeling that someone in certain situations deserves that penalty and others who say, no, it is morally wrong. The death penalty is wrong.

You may also find that there are different values in just everyday situations, such as parenting. You have one parent who feels very strongly about discipline and another parent who's a little more lenient. Or you may disagree about what time your children should go to bed, or when they should watch television, or what kind of television they should watch based on values. So that is value-based conflict.

So here we have the five different kinds of conflict. We have data-based, relation-based, interest-based, structural-based, and values-based. Now, all of these conflicts are helpful in understanding the underlying causes of conflict in the world. And understanding these basic causes can help us formulate effective resolutions when we want to move forward.

So thank you for attending. I look forward to seeing you again.

Terms to Know
Data-Based Conflict

Conflict based on inadequate access to, distribution of, or interpretations of information by parties.

Interest-Based Conflict

Conflict based on unmet needs.

Relationship-Based Conflict

Conflict based in the relational patterns between parties.

Structural Conflict

Conflict based on external forces that impede parties' goals or exercise of their rights.

Values-Based Conflict

Conflict based on parties' differing or incompatible perceptions of what is morally right or wrong.