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Types of Conflict

Types of Conflict

Author: Julie Tietz

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

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Source: Image of Earth, Public Domain, Image of Teenage girl, Public Domain, Image of Water bottle, Public Domain, Image of Guns, Public Domain, Image of March for women’s lives, Creative Commons,

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Julie Tietz, and welcome to conflict resolution-- putting the pieces together. For today, we're going to talk about a couple of different types of conflict. And we're going to cover data-based conflict, relationship-based, interest-based, structural, and values-based conflict.

So let's start off by looking at data-based conflict. That is conflict based on inadequate access to distribution of or interpretations of information by parties.

A good example of a data-based conflict would be the subject of global warming. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the scientific data on global warming and how that should be interpreted. Some believe that the data shows that there's significant threat to our planet and something should be done about it to remedy the situation. While others interpret the data as showing that it's not a serious threat, and that it's a natural occurrence and nothing should be done about it. So due to the different interpretations of the scientific data, there's quite a bit of conflict and controversy surrounding the subject.

Now we have relationship-based conflict, and that is conflict based in the relational patterns between parties. We all have some sort of relationship in our life, whether that's with a co-worker, a family member, a friendship, or a significant other. And so, I think with a relationship-based conflict, we all can relate to this in some way or another.

So let's look at the example of a parent/teen conflict. Let's say that I have a daughter, and she hasn't been doing her chores for a week. And so I am feeling disrespected by her lack of responsibility for her jobs within the house. And so I confront her about it. In the way that I am confronting her and trying to discuss this, she also feels disrespected in that I'm possibly attacking her. And the way that our relational pattern is going and the style of communication is happening, this is what is causing the conflict in how we're talking to and discussing this or possibly, even yelling and fighting about it.

OK so now we have interest-based conflict, and that is conflict based on unmet needs. So we all have certain needs, whether they're physical and emotional, for our life. And so when these needs are not met, it's possible for a conflict to arise.

So an interest-based conflict might look like conflict over natural resources like water. We all need water to survive. And there could be some dispute surrounding who can have access to certain water sources and who can lay claim to land surrounding the water. And sometimes in interest-based conflicts, parties believe that in order for their own needs to be met, they must infringe on the other party's needs.

So let's say that I want this certain water source, and I'm going to take all of it. Because if I don't take it all, then the other side is going to take it. And my need for water is not going to be met, and I won't be able to survive without the water.

Now let's take a look at structural conflict, and that is conflicts based on external forces that impede parties goals or exercise of their rights. So let's use the example of the right to bear arms and gun ownership. Underneath the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, people are granted the right to bear arms. And some interpret this as the right to own whatever type and number of guns they choose, and that any laws or structure surrounding restrictions or prohibiting their gun use impedes on their constitutional rights. And this is what is causing the conflict is the laws, and without those laws, then there wouldn't be a problem.

So our final type of conflict is values-based conflict. And that is conflicts based on parties differing or incompatible perceptions of what is morally right or wrong. So let's use the example of the abortion debate for a values-based conflict.

On both sides of the issue, they believe that they are right and the other side is wrong. And these differences have polarized these two sides making it difficult or nearly impossible to resolve the conflict because they are so embedded in their moral fabric. And these differing and incompatible perceptions of what is right and wrong are what causes the conflict and makes it really hard to really weed through the issues that both sides are having on the topic.

So we covered five types of conflict today. Those are data-based, relationship-based, interest-based, structural, and values-based. So now that you know the definitions of each of these conflicts, why don't you try and think of other examples for each of them and see what you can come up with.

So people assume that conflicts under each of these definitions may be different because they don't share the same facts, or details, or size, or one is more intense in the other. But it's important to remember that in conflict resolution, we have to look at all of these conflicts in, an essence, as similar. In doing so, we'll be more effective in resolving them.

Thank you so much for taking the time to watch this lesson, and I hope to see you next time.

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.