Certain processes play divisive or disintegrative roles in the social life of individuals or groups. These are called dissociative processes. Conflict, competition and mutual opposition are called as dissociative processes.
Many thinkers say that antagonistic or decisive process also strengthens the process of social solidarity. Adam Smith defined the role of competition in the economic activities of production, distribution and consumption.
Man’s biological, psychological, cultural and social needs inspire him for competition. As trees in forest compete with one another to get sunlight, in a similar way wild animals compete for food, water and security.
In the same way competition goes on among human beings with, the desire to fulfill their needs. Wherever and whenever the commodities which people want are available in a limited supply, there is competition.
Park and Burgess say that “Competition is art interaction without social contact.”
Biesanz says that “Competition is the striving of two or more persons for the same goal which is limited so that all cannot have.”
According to Sutherland, Woodward and Maxwell “Competition is an impersonal, unconscious, continuous struggle between individual or groups for satisfaction which, because of their limited supply, all may not have.”
Nature and Characteristics of Competition :
1. Impersonal action :-
Competition is not a personal action. The individual may aware but has no personal contact with other competitors. The attention of competitors are fixed on goal. Therefore, the personal and direct relations do not exist among the competitors.
2. Unconscious action :-
Competition is an unconscious action and occurs unconsciously. The competitors even do not know each other but their attention is fixed on the goal which is regarded as the main object of their competition.
3. Continuous Process :-
Competition never comes to an end. It is found in every area of social activity. Competition for status, wealth and fame is always present in almost all societies.
4. Universal Process :-
No society can be called as to exclusively competitive or co-operative, yet competition is found every society and in every level. It covers almost all the areas of our social living.
5. Dissociative Process :-
Competition is a dissociative social process. Competition may lead to conflict. These process are called negative type of interaction. It always work for disintegration of society. This process may hamper the unity and integrity of society.
6. Constructive or destructive in nature :-
Competition may be healthy or unhealthy. If one of the two or more competitions tries to win only at the expense of the others then it is destructive. But constructive competition contributes to the welfare of all.
Competition is of five main categories. They are -
1. Social Competition.
2. Economic Competition. ;
3. Cultural Competition.
4. Racial Competition.
5. Political Competition.
1. Social Competition :-
People always compete to get into higher status and position. Where individual ability, merit, talent and capacities are recognised there competition for status is acute.
2. Economic Competition :-
Economic competition is found in the process of production, consumption and distribution goods. Man always struggles for higher standard of living. Till competition for jobs, customers, clients, patients, profits, wages, salaries, promotions etc. are economic competitions.
3. Cultural Competition :-
Cultural competition may take place between two or more cultural groups. When cultures try to establish their supremacy over others this type of competition takes place.
4. Racial Competition :-
Racial competition takes place when one race tries to establish its superiority over the others. The competition between whites and blacks is the bright example oil racial competition.
5. Political Competition :-
Political parties are always engaged in competition to secure power. Similarly in the international level there is always diplomatic competition between different nations.
Role and Functions of Competition :-
As a social process competition plays a very important role in, the life of individuals. Like co-operation, competition is also necessary for social life. H.T. Mazumdar discusses different functions of competition. They are positive functions of competition-
1. Competition determines the role and status of individual.
2. Competition increases efficiency among competitors
3. It protects individuals from direct conflict.
4. It prevents undue concentration of power among the hands of few.
5. Competition is the symbol of social and economic progress.
6. It respects the rules of the game.
Negative Functions :-
1. It leads to frustration.
2. Unlimited competition gives rise to monopoly.
3. Competition sometimes leads to conflict.
4. It creates emotional disturbances.
5. Competition also leads to exploitation.