Critically Discuss Conflict Resolution in Groups

Topics: Sociology, Minority group, Social psychology Pages: 14 (4678 words) Published: May 7, 2005
Critically discuss conflict resolution in groups

Conflict resolution has been researched, analysed and discussed for many years; however, it is only until recently that psychologists have gotten involved on a wider scale. Up until then the study of relations has more or less been the preserve of political scientists, historians and professionals such as lawyers and diplomats. Much of the social science research has therefore been based on the previous; therefore the theories developed give a much deeper insight to the psychological aspects of conflict resolution. In order to discuss conflict resolution, conflict needs to be defined. Chambers (2003) defines conflict is as " a violent collision: a struggle or contest: a battle: a mental struggle "(pg. 272) This is a general and very broad definition of the word which has been differently interpreted by psychologists as well as sociologists and economists. Shaw claims that in conflict situations driving forces are involved, combined with restraining forces, own forces and various combinations of induced or impersonal forces. All these contribute to a conflict situation. He goes on to explain that driving forces produce conflicts when the person is located between two positive valences, two negative valences or the person themselves. He uses a diagram to represent this (Appendix 1). In his next diagram he shows an avoidance-avoidance conflict situation is shown. (Appendix 2). Shaw refers to this as a stable conflict situation whereby the conflict usually remains unresolved. The third and last diagram represents two goals which both represent positive and negative valences in the same direction. This he calls the approach-avoidance conflict situation in which conflict is also stable however, people in this situation psychologically think they are in the avoidance-avoidance situation.

Conflicts which involve other forces such as driving forces or restraining forces, and these restrictions can't be passed the person may respond with aggression, hostility, frustration, apathy or other negative feelings. Shaw believes that conflict can be caused by opposition of forces corresponding to the persons needs, or by induced forces. However, this theory makes little sense, as Shaw gives the example of an employer giving orders to an employee, may show signs of some kind of power of P ( a boss would have a certain hold/power over his/her employees) however, this does not mean that this automatically results in conflict. This example can be seen in virtually any type of business and while there have been and still are a few cases of this type of control from on person to another, the majority of time there is no result in conflict. Furthermore, this example can also be taken to on to a parent and a child. Usually in children in their teens will show some slight rebellion to the parent's authority, which does cause conflict, suffice to say the resulted conflict is not one, which cannot be resolved or removed. The conflict may arise over curfews or other social aspects of the child's life. In many cases a compromise is reached therefore removing the conflict point. However, this would mean that the parent surrenders a slight portion of his authority or power, but still retains the majority of it.

Conflict resolution has been widely discussed because there are so many different situations in which conflict arises. A very large part of conflict resolution can take place between ethnic groups, minority and majority (ethnic) groups and between state and minority ethnic groups. Eriksen (1993) related conflict resolution to ethno-cultural factors, which he defined as ‘a group of people who firmly believe that they are ethically and/ or culturally distinct from the rest of the population (pg.XX). The relationship between ethno-cultural majority and minority groups in different societies has shown that they are very prone to conflict. These conflicts seem ‘deep-rooted' and ‘intractable'...

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