Social conflict


There are times when society sees situations that affect their well-being or violate their rights while governments, instead of acting, look the other way. It is in these moments when the social conflict arises , people go out to the streets, demonstrate and demand solutions.

What is a social conflict?

Social conflict is the struggle by which different social groups try to achieve a certain status using all the means at their disposal, even if this means having to harm other groups. This type of conflict usually calls into question the social structure and will often lead to its alteration.

  • Definition of social conflict
  • Characteristics
  • Elements
  • Story
  • Theory of social conflict
  • Types
  • Causes of social conflict
  • Consequences
  • Prevention
  • Authors
  • Examples of social conflicts

Definition of social conflict

social conflict can be defined as a situation in which the interests of two different social groups are opposed . This leads these groups to take actions in order to ensure that their position prevails and, if this is not possible, to achieve a consensus position with which both parties are satisfied.



A social conflict can present the following characteristics:

  • Caused by divergent interests.
  • It may be motivated by the interpretation of a rule .
  • It is usually directed against the State or against the competent authorities.
  • Informal, depersonalized and unstructured.
  • It is reflected in the demonstrations.
  • It can lead to illegal acts such as roadblocks or looting.
  • They are difficult to control by governments.
  • It can be solved through consensus.


The elements that participate in the social conflict are:

Actors of the conflict

They are those people or groups who see how their rights are violated and reveal themselves demanding a solution.


He is the one who will carry out the negotiation between the different parties . The state itself is usually the one that exercises this function, although this figure is sometimes omitted or a third party is used.


The actors in the conflict and the mediator try to reach a solution through dialogue . The goal is to find a solution in which all parties feel that they are valued and listened to and, of course, feel benefited.


Social conflicts are almost as old as the human being himself . Since he began to live in society and get together in small population centers, problems of coexistence have arisen that have led to the most diverse disputes.

The first social conflicts on record occurred in Ancient Egypt , specifically during the reign of Ramses III was when the first strike on record took place.

After this, social conflicts have been happening in all existing civilizations, from the Roman Empire or Ancient Greece, to the medieval kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Castile or the Kingdom of Wessex, or current countries such as the United States or Peru.

Theory of social conflict

Next we are going to expose the two main theories that deal with social conflict:

  • Marxism : it is the theory that has most influenced the interpretation of social conflict. He bases his theory on the class struggle and grants it a socioeconomic origin.
  • Functionalism : it conceives society as a whole in which each individual and institution has its own function or role. The conflict arises when one of the parties does not perform the role assigned to them.

In addition to these there are others that there are also other theories that treat social conflict such as volcanic theories or the theory of war as a rational activity.


Social conflicts can be of various types; functional , dysfunctional . real , unreal and invented .


This type of confrontational situation is characterized by being positive. It occurs when two social groups agree with the objectives to be achieved but not with the means to be used. It is usually solved by reaching a consensus between the groups which will allow the objectives to be achieved.


Unlike the functional type, a dysfunctional social conflict is usually quite negative and harms the whole of society. It usually occurs when a consensus is not found for a solution to the functional conflict. In this case, it may happen that the objectives of the different groups vary, which will cause the tension to increase and negatively affect the feelings of society.


They start from a real problem, sometimes caused by inequality, sometimes by wars or by religious and racial reasons. Many times the solution is complicated since there are powerful social groups that see their position threatened.


It occurs when the conflict is caused by a wrong interpretation of the situation . It is usually easily resolved after being explained correctly and clarifying possible doubts.


It is about making up a problem or misinterpreting something in order to cause a conflict. Unfortunately many social conflicts arise in this way.


It is one that has started and is present on the streets or through public demands.


It is the social conflict that exists and of which there is evidence but in which the members of the affected social group do not reveal themselves or have ceased to reveal themselves.


It is that social conflict in which the parties have reached an agreement . It usually leads to an improvement in the social conditions of the group that felt that their rights were not being respected.

The types of social conflicts mentioned above not only occur in a society, they can also occur in a group or in an organization.

Causes of social conflict

Social conflicts can be motivated by many causes, including:


Hunger and lack of clean water are some of the greatest ills in the world today . That is why the lack of a basic diet has led to the uprising of the population against the different governments. This is something that has been very common in Africa.


In most countries there are sectors of society that feel that a few hold most of the country’s wealth . If we add to this that social services are often scarce, the perfect breeding ground is created for the start of a social conflict.


The corruption of the political system is one of the main concerns of the people who inhabit a country. The truth is that in times of bonanza many turn a blind eye because in the end the system works, but in times of crisis it is a problem whose importance is accentuated and causes social movements to emerge that demand the end of it. .

State absence

There are countries in which the role of the State does not reach all regions of the country . This can cause inequalities both in those services that depend on it, such as education or health.


Wars can be caused by social conflicts , such as civil wars, or they can be the starting point of a later social conflict, as these cause problems such as lack of food or poverty.

Productive potentialities

Many African countries tend to have a deficit of productive potential . This causes problems such as inefficient use of resources or technological backwardness.


People have always looked down on what is different . People who emigrate see how many times the local population has racist attitudes towards them, which sooner or later leads to uprisings demanding respect and equality.

In countries like the United States, the Afro-American population has been a clear example of social struggle, going from being enslaved to having the same rights as anyone else.


Unfortunately , people’s beliefs can be a cause of discrimination. This can make a social group feel isolated from the rest and not only that, but also not have the same opportunities as the rest of the population, causing them to manifest themselves and to claim the rights they deserve.

Economic crisis

With this type of event, all kinds of social problems that were already latent come to light . Also during these stages, unemployment tends to increase, as does poverty and even hunger.


It is a social conflict that is very present these days and is given by the existing inequality between men and women and the problems derived from it, such as disparity in wages or gender violence.


The consequences of a social conflict are very varied , some can be positive while others are negative. In general, if the conflict is peaceful, there will be no deterioration of urban furniture, there will be no displaced or injured, and it is more than possible that a recognition of rights will be achieved.

Problems come when the revolt is not peaceful and there is a violent confrontation . Here, despite the fact that the objectives sought with the conflict can be achieved, the truth is that everyone can lose, with ordinary citizens being the most affected.


There are three measures that can be taken to avoid future social conflicts, these are:

  • Promote equality: in this way it is achieved that we all feel as equal regardless of our sex, race, age or beliefs.
  • Education in values: thanks to this it will be possible for people to live together in harmony and be more receptive to what is different. Values ​​such as respect, honesty or solidarity are essential to achieve this end.
  • Awareness of society: it is about showing how the most disadvantaged people are and looking for solutions to their situation.


The main authors of the theory of social conflict are:

  • Thomas Hobbes
  • Lewis Coser
  • Marx
  • Max weber
  • Norberto Bobbio
  • Muzafer Sherif

Examples of social conflicts

Let’s see some examples of social conflict:

In the conquest

During the conquest of America by the Spanish , numerous social conflicts arose motivated by the actions of the Spanish themselves. They longed to gain power and social status so they subdued the indigenous peoples, imposed their customs and brought slaves from Africa.

In Peru

Peru is a country that has starred in many social conflicts of different kinds. These are some:

  • March of the population against the tolls of Lurín.
  • Taking of the North Peruvian Pipeline by the native population.
  • Conflict between the MMG Las Bambas mining company and the local community.
  • Agricultural strike in which protection measures are requested.

In Spain

In Spain, the 15-M or movement of the indignant had a great repercussion They were a series of peaceful protests in which the population expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation that was being experienced in the country, mainly motivated by the economic crisis and by the corruption of the main political parties.

In Chile

The so-called “Social Outbreak of Chile “ is a recent social conflict that consisted of a series of demonstrations and disturbances in which the population expressed their dissatisfaction with cases of corruption , economic inequality, rising unemployment or rising prices. of transport.

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