Resolution of Social Conflict

Social conflict is exclusively an aspect of social power. To understand social conflict, we must deal with the level of social powers and their related factors. When two persons or more than two persons clash with each other verbally or physically, there is a conflict, and in a social situation, it turns out to be a social conflict. The social conflict can only be understood by considering social power, as most of the conflicts that emerge in a social situation are related to the power one has, and the power one can wield. In this unit, we will deal with the above factors, the nature of social and family power, and how these affect an individual's behaviors.

Methods of Conflict Resolution

The following are some of the most common methods −

Mutually Beneficial Objective

Establishing mutually beneficial goals is a typical way to resolve social conflict. Such aims encourage warring parties to work together closely and help decrease sentiments of group conflict. Sheriff and Sherif conducted a classic experiment in which they placed two groups in a social context with competition between the two parties. It was shown that they quickly acquired feelings of enmity and competition. Matters escalated to the point that both parties raided one other's camps to harm and ruin their chances of success. The next stage of the experiment placed both warring groups in a circumstance that required them to work together to achieve the goal.

Neither of them had adequate means to achieve their objectives on their own; they were forced to rely on one another to overcome obstacles. Not long before, members of both parties began attempting to comprehend one other's worries. They began to see members of the opposing group more frequently and admired one other's problem-solving strategies. By the end of the trial, both groups had better understood one another, and there was a significant reduction in feelings of conflict.


Achieving an agreement between the two sides reduces the amount of conflict. Compromise occurs when no party stands to gain or lose anything. As a result, it progressively leads to a reduction in the struggle. For example, when Gurjars in Rajasthan pressed the government for inclusion in the scheduled tribes, the Meenas passionately opposed their proposal because they had been the state's biggest gainer. This confrontation escalated into open war, resulting in numerous casualties and suffering. Because both communities now live side by side practically everywhere in Rajasthan, they quickly realized that opposing each other was pointless. A compromise was reached between the two, and an agreement was reached in which the Gurjars renounced their demand for inclusion in the scheduled tribe but requested a separate quota for themselves. At the same time, the Meenas agreed to support the Gurjars' demand. Hence, under the new arrangement, neither party stood to gain or lose anything at the expense of the other.

Creating Special Norms

Creating special norms can help lessen conflict between opposing factions or organizations. In a game, for example, the umpire may be asked to decide who will take the first turn. As a result, the point of dispute is erased, as is the source of the conflict. Based on research, psychologists have defined social situations in which conflict and struggle can be handled by adopting unique standards. According to them, such interventions are appropriate in social situations where both parties can and desire to affect each other. This strategy has been employed successfully in various settings with various populations.

Prosocial Behavior

We define prosocial behavior as behavior that has a tremendous social influence on others. Giving charity, working for the welfare of others, and assisting others in need are all examples of prosocial behavior. According to studies, when one group participates in prosocial behavior toward members of another community, it directly impacts their perspective and opinion of them and considerably reduces sentiments of conflict and struggle. Psychologists discovered that when a person engages in prosocial behavior, that is, when a person assists a person in distress, the person goes through four stages −

  • First, the individual assesses the gravity of the condition or circumstance that requires assistance.

  • Second, the person accepts responsibility for assisting another person.

  • Third, the individual develops a desire to assist the person in distress and

  • Finally, the individual recognizes that he or she can assist another person.

Using Scientific Methods for Conflict Resolution

Social psychologists proposed the following scientific ways for reducing group conflict −

Win-Loss Strategy

With this technique, one party or group uses various ways, means, and approaches to ensure the defeat of the opposing party and triumph for themselves. In other words, one group attempts to prevent another group from attaining the objective or goal in order for them to reach the goal. This strategy is predicated on two assumptions. Disagreement among people is unavoidable, and unanimity is unattainable; and a gain for one party results in a loss for the other. In other words, only one party can win or achieve the goal, while the other is doomed to fail. Conflicts do emerge in such scenarios. Now that battle is unavoidable, and there can only be one victor, the ideal strategy or approach is to leave no stone unturned to ensure the defeat of opponents and victory for self. Success can be achieved through socially acceptable means such as exercising our democratic rights, but also, to some extent, through subversive methods such as threatening opponents with dire consequences, luring opponent allies over the fence with various benefits, or even resorting to illegal activities as advocated. This approach promotes putting into practice the age-old adage that all is fair in love and battle. The result is more important than the techniques used to get there.

Lose-Lose strategy

This technique is known as the lose-lose approach since none of the parties involved in the conflict stand to gain much and cannot achieve what they desire. The following assumptions underpin this approach −

  • Something is better than nothing.

  • Avoiding conflict is better than engaging in it and wasting resources.

  • The lose-lose method is shown when organizations reconcile with each other after the first bouts of conflict.

  • Another feature of this technique is that it produces a speedy solution to the problem while ignoring human values and motivations.

Win-win Strategy

The win-win method is distinct from the previous two ways stated. This is great for reducing conflict between opposing factions. It entails both sides using various cooperative tactics and techniques to reach a deliberate solution to the conflict so that all parties benefit to the greatest extent possible. The underlying assumption in this method is that struggle is a mutual problem that can be resolved amicably. It focuses on the obstacles and problems of both parties rather than the tactics for achieving success. Both sides sit down and work together to solve the problem, and whoever finds the solution first informs the other party. As a result, the solution reached is acceptable to all parties involved. However, successfully using this strategy demands human interaction skills; otherwise, success with this approach is challenging.

Two Dimensional Model

This paradigm assumes that all conflict resolution behavior can be broken down into two dimensions: assertiveness and cooperation. These two fundamental elements of behavior create five distinct modes of dispute resolution −

Competing is assertive and uncooperative—an individual pursues his or her interests at the expense of the other person. This is a power-oriented approach in which you utilize whatever power seems appropriate to win your position—argumentation, rank, or economic sanctions. Competing entails "standing up for your rights," defending a stance you feel to be correct, or simply attempting to win.

Competing is the polar opposite of accommodating, which is forceful and cooperative. When an individual is accommodating, he ignores his issues to meet the other person's demands; this approach has an element of self-sacrifice. Selfless generosity or kindness, obeying another person's order when you prefer not to or surrendering to another's point of view are all accommodating.

Avoiding is passive and uncooperative—the person does not pursue his or her own or the other person's concerns. As a result, he avoids dealing with the conflict. Avoiding can take the form of politely avoiding an issue, deferring an issue until a better moment, or simply retreating from a potentially dangerous circumstance.

Collaboration is the polar opposite of avoiding in that it is both forceful and cooperative. Collaboration entails collaborating with others to develop a solution that addresses their concerns. It entails delving into a problem to determine the underlying needs and desires of the two people. Exploring a disagreement to learn from each other's ideas or attempting to discover a creative solution to an interpersonal problem are two examples of collaboration between two people.

In terms of assertiveness and cooperativeness, compromise is modest. The goal is to find a quick, mutually acceptable solution that satisfies both sides. It is somewhere in the middle of competing and welcoming. Giving up more than battling but less than appeasing is what compromise entails. Giving up more than battling but less than appeasing is what compromise entails.

Similarly, it handles an issue more directly than avoiding it, but not as thoroughly as collaborating. Compromise may imply splitting the difference between two perspectives, swapping compromises, or seeking a rapid middle-ground solution in various instances. Each of us is capable of employing all five conflict-resolution strategies. Nobody can be described as having a singular approach to dispute resolution. Nonetheless, some persons employ some modes better than others and, as a result, rely on those modes more heavily than others—whether due to temperament or practice.

Intervention by a third party Another option for settling group disputes is to seek the assistance of an arbitrator or third party. This third party attempts to find a solution while keeping the characteristics of the opposing factions in mind. The solution developed by a third party is binding on all parties involved. A positive aspect of this resolution is that the third party does not impose a choice; instead, the result is reached through open discussion and negotiation over issues of contention. Nevertheless, this strategy necessitates that the third party is extraordinarily mature and skilled in human interactions.


Social conflict is considering other people in the environment or society. Those involved in social conflict utilize power to produce results, and social power is an action aimed to produce effects on or through another person. The confrontation of social powers is then defined as social conflict.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started