Social Conflicts

Social conflicts refer to disagreements, tensions or contradictions between different individuals, groups, or societies arising due to differing opinions, interests, values, or identities. Such conflicts can manifest in various forms such as social, economic, political, cultural, or environmental. Social conflicts are an integral part of human interaction and are found in every society, irrespective of its size, type, or complexity. These conflicts can have both positive and negative consequences depending on how they are handled. On one hand, they can result in positive changes, such as social reform, while on the other, they can lead to social unrest, violence, and other negative outcomes. Therefore, understanding social conflicts, their sources, and the ways to resolve them is essential for maintaining social order and promoting harmonious relations between different groups and individuals.

Meaning of Conflict

An interpersonal misunderstanding or disagreement between two or more parties can result in a conflict. When parties involved in a disagreement perceive that their needs, interests, concerns, or even lives are threatened, conflict arises. Conflict is more than just a simple disagreement, as it involves a situation where people perceive a threat to their well-being. This threat may come in various forms, such as physical harm, emotional distress, or a loss of power or status. Therefore, conflicts arise when people perceive that their well-being is in danger as a result of a disagreement.

Types of Conflict

Non-violent Conflict

Non-violent conflict is a potent weapon that people use to fight for their rights, freedom, justice, self-determination, and accountable government. There are various civil resistance tactics that individuals use to wage non-violent conflict. These tactics include strikes, boycotts, mass protests, petitions, civil disobedience, divorce, and resignation. These methods of civil resistance are often effective because they put pressure on those in power to listen and respond to the needs and demands of the people. Non-violent conflict is a means to create change without the use of violence, allowing for a peaceful resolution of issues. It is a way for people to voice their concerns and demand change while still maintaining respect for human life and dignity

Violent conflict

Violent conflict occurs when two parties use physical force to resolve competing claims or interests. This type of conflict usually involves individuals or groups who are not affiliated with a government, and it tends to be confrontational in nature. In violent conflicts, the use of physical force may result in harm or injury to individuals, destruction of property, and loss of life. It is a destructive and harmful means of conflict resolution, as it often results in a vicious cycle of retaliation and revenge, causing even more harm and damage. This type of conflict is undesirable, and it can have long-lasting negative effects on individuals and societies. As such, it is important to seek peaceful means of resolving conflicts, avoiding violent means whenever possible.

Examples of Conflict:

Conflicts can be categorized into inter-ethnic, intra-ethnic, religious and political, and marital conflict.

Inter-Ethnic Conflict

Inter-Ethnic Conflict involves violent clashes between two or more ethnic groups. In Nigeria, instances of inter-ethnic conflicts include the Urhobo-Ijaw-Itsekiri conflict in the Niger Delta region, the Dataf/Hausa conflict in Kaduna State, the Fulani-Udoma conflict in Benue State, and the Yoruba-Hausa conflict in Ibadan, Oyo State, among others.

Intra-Ethnic Conflict

Intra-Ethnic Conflict occurs within a particular ethnic group. Examples of intra-ethnic conflicts in Nigeria include the Ife-Modakeke conflict in Osun State, the Offa-Erinle conflict in Kwara State, and the Aguleri-Umuleri conflict in Anambra State.

Religious Conflict 

Religious Conflict arises between people of different religious affiliations. For instance, there have been conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Kano, Nigeria.

Marital Conflict

Marital Conflict happens between couples who are married to each other and may result from differences in beliefs, values, expectations, or communication.

The root cause of conflict lies in the way a society is organized, and how individuals and groups are treated. A society that treats its members unequally and unfairly is more likely to experience conflict, especially if its leaders do not adequately represent all members. Some causes of conflict include political factors, economic disparities, social inequality, ethnic or religious differences, and ideological or cultural clashes.

Causes of Conflict

 The following reasons are different causes of conflict.

  1. Competition: Conflicts arise when people compete for the same resources, such as territory, jobs, land, and housing, leading to unhealthy competition for resources.
  2. Governance: Conflicts arise when people are dissatisfied with how they are being governed, leading to bad governance.
  3. Religion and Politics: Conflicts arise when people’s religious and political beliefs clash. These views are sensitive because people rely on them for a sense of identity and belonging, resulting in a clash of religious and political views.
  4. Ethnicity: Conflicts arise when ethnic values and beliefs are not respected, resulting in a lack of respect for ethnic beliefs.
  5. Threat to Safety: Conflicts arise when people feel threatened, whether or not the threat is real, leading to a threat to life.
  6. Economic Inequality: Conflicts arise when there is an uneven distribution of wealth and resources, leading to economic inequality.
  7. Cultural Differences: Conflicts arise when cultural differences are not respected, leading to a lack of respect for cultural diversity.
  8. Historical Disputes: Conflicts arise when historical disputes are not resolved, leading to lingering resentment and conflict.
  9. Power Struggles: Conflicts arise when there is a struggle for power and control, leading to a power struggle.
  10. Miscommunication: Conflicts arise when there is a lack of effective communication, leading to misunderstandings and conflict.

Consequences of Conflicts

  1. Loss of property and resources is one of the consequences of conflict, which can leave people with nothing, and often, their hard-earned resources may be destroyed.
  2. Vandalism is a frequent outcome of conflicts, and it involves the destruction of public and private properties through physical destruction and arson.
  3. Conflict can lead to human rights violations as individuals are often stripped of their fundamental human rights to life, property, and freedom of speech.
  4. Displacement is a significant consequence of conflict, forcing people to abandon their homes and communities, leading to the migration of refugees.
  5. Conflict creates a negative psychological experience that lasts for a long time, especially for women and children who may experience trauma, anxiety and depression.
  6. Rape and sexual violations are often carried out during conflicts, particularly on young girls and women, which leads to physical and emotional trauma.
  7. Conflict increases exposure to HIV, especially in cases where sexual violations occur.
  8. Economic growth can be slowed or reversed when conflict occurs, leading to the destruction of physical infrastructure, a decline in economic activities, and a loss of business opportunities.
  9. Conflict can lead to the breakdown of family and social structures, where people may become isolated and lose the sense of community, leading to further social problems.
  10. The conflict poses a threat to national and international peace, as it can escalate into a larger conflict and destabilize the region and beyond.
  11. Death is the ultimate consequence of conflict, as it often results in the loss of lives, which can be traumatic for individuals and communities involved.

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