An Overview of Peace and Conflict

Topics: Sociology, Political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 5 (1237 words) Published: November 25, 2012


Peace is often seen as the converse of war. i.e. peace and war as two sides of the same coin. Hence the definition of peace as the absence of war, and that of war as the absence of peace

The problem with this definition is that it does not explain everything about peace and war For example even in situations of war, some conditions of peace still prevail. E.g. in spite the long years of hostilities between the Israelis and Palestinians, both have been able to reach a peaceful agreement on the use of their water resources.

Secondly, the definition does not take into account the issue of structural violence, in the words of John Galtung. According to Galtung, war represents only one form of violence, which is physical, open and direct.

The others form of violence has to do with social conditions of life. This consists of •Poverty
Fear and
Other forms of psychological pressure

So from this analysis, it is possible not to have peace even where there is no war. This is the situation in countries where there is acute poverty, police brutality, oppression of the poor by the rich, use of power to intimidate people by those in power. Even where there is no war in such societies, they may not experience peace (Ibeanu)

Conflict as the pursuit of incompatible interests and goals by different groups •Conflict occurs as a struggle over values. The values may be in terms of physical of material possessions or resources, status or power. (Louise Coser)

Central to conflict is the issue of perception.
When one party perceives the action of another as preventing or blocking the attainment of a goal, conflict is said to occur.
Therefore the two ingredients necessary for conflict to occur are: Perceived goal incompatibility
Perceived opportunity for interference or blocking.
In other words, conflict occurs when an intended action is perceived to be inimical or detrimental to the realization of one’s objective

Generally perception is a product of man’s physiological, cognitive and cultural dispositions which of course differ from person to persons, and from one environment to another. Therefore, we can say that conflict is inevitable to the extent that it is fundamental to the existence of any institution, body or society

It is inevitable because human beings are naturally different from one another in their attitude, perception and orientation. But conflicts could be destructive if not properly handled. Hence we often sat that the way and manner conflicts are resolved differentiates one organization or society from another.

To the Instrumentalists: Peace is a means to an end. Here the absence of war serves the objective of social progress and development. In other words, where there is peace, society will experience positive transformation in all facets of life.

Peace has a social function of integration and order. That peace is fundamental if society is to function properly. If not the social and political system will experience stress, and then brake down.

Many philosophers interpret peace as a natural, original, God-given state of human existence. i.e., the pre-corruption state of man in society, as God established it. This is the God’s created state of perfection.

St. Augustine of Hippo:
He distinguished between “two cities”, namely; The city of God, founded on perfect heavenly peace and spiritual salvation; and the Earthly city of man, founded on acquisition and possessive mentality of man, but corrupt and always in conflict.

John Rousseau:
He sees from the angle of a state of nature, the original state of existence of man where there are no desires, where men were naturally good, free and enjoy tranquility. But...
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