In this lesson, we’ll discuss the variety of ways in which conflict can occur by looking at the five different types of conflict:
Data-based conflict is based on inadequate access to or distribution and interpretations of information by parties. Let’s take a look at some examples of where this type of conflict can occur.
There’s a report that you need to finish at work; however, you don’t have access to the correct information. The fact that you must now wait for this information can lead to conflict. Or once you get the information, you don’t understand how these conclusions were reached. Where do these numbers come from? The conflict here is that you disagree with the interpretation of the information that you've just received.
When the housing market dropped during 2008, there were a lot of people pointing fingers at unscrupulous lenders and bankers because of how they collected information and distributed it to unsuspecting customers. We had a data-based conflict there, along with a lot of other kinds of conflict that continued throughout that period.
Relationship-based conflict involves the relational patterns between parties, and there are several ways we can look at these patterns.
Some relationships have a certain amount of authority and rights are already built into the relationship: A parent may tell a child things like, “Go clean up your room,” “Yes, you can go out,” “No, you can't go out,” “Go do your homework.”
It’s quite natural for the parent to be able tell the child these things because the parent is in a natural position of authority.
However, in any kind of relationship we have, there are various patterns that may occur.
Let’s say you are working with somebody who's very organized. Everything has to be very structured, everything's in its place, and everything has a file. You may be somebody who is not quite that structured, and perhaps you have piles of papers on your desk. You always know where things are; they're just always in piles. Because you’re a little bit more loose, maybe a little bit more messy, this can cause a conflict with the other person.
You’re planning a vacation with somebody who likes to plan ahead in order to know exactly what's going to happen. You’re a little more spontaneous, and prefer to just see what happens when you get there. This can make planning the trip more difficult, and maybe lead to a relationship-based conflict.
Interest-based conflict occurs when there are unmet needs, and there could be a variety of ways that this manifests depending on what the needs are. Let’s look at some examples.
Time as a need: You're a researcher, and you really need more time in order to finish the research and really feel confident about it. However, the company you’re working for says, “No. We've got to get to market. You've got to meet this deadline." There are two different needs here around time.
Money as a need: You would like to save money to plan for a vacation. You've been looking forward to a vacation because you work hard. Your partner wants to save that money in order to buy a new car. The two of you are fighting about exactly what to do with this extra money you have, so this is an interest-based conflict.
Structural conflict is conflict that is based on external forces impeding a party's goals or rights.
On a personal scale, structural conflict is something people commonly encounter when dealing with a lot of policies or procedures that need to be waded through:
On a larger scale, structural conflict happens quite often within nations where people feel like their rights are being constricted by government:
Values-based conflict is conflict based on parties' differing or incompatible perceptions of what is morally right or wrong.
Typically when you have this type of conflict, the goal is not to try to change someone's values; you want to understand what's beneath them.
Some people believe that gay marriage is perfectly fine; other people believe that gay marriage is morally wrong. There are also people who support the death penalty because they believe prisoners may deserve that penalty in certain situations; others consider the death penalty morally wrong no matter what the circumstances may be.
One parent may feel very strongly about discipline, while another parent may believe in being more lenient. Parents may also disagree about time their children should go to bed, when they should watch television, or what kind of television they should watch. These are all examples of values-based conflict.
Using these categories can help decipher the underlying causes of conflict in the world. When we comprehend the basic causes of conflict, we are able to work on formulating effective resolutions in order to move forward.
Consider a conflict you experienced recently:
In this lesson, you learned that there are five different kinds of conflict: data-based, relationship-based, interest-based, structural, and values-based.
You now understand that knowing how to identify the type of conflict you're dealing with can help you in formulating the best possible solutions.Good luck!
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.
Conflict based on inadequate access to, distribution of, or interpretations of information by parties.
Conflict based on unmet needs.
Conflict based in the relational patterns between parties.
Conflict based on external forces that impede parties' goals or exercise of their rights.
Conflict based on parties' differing or incompatible perceptions of what is morally right or wrong.