The social processes can broadly be divided into two categories. One is associative social process and the other is dissociative social process.

The process that make special contribution towards social differentiation, antagonism and division are called dissociative processes. Conflict, competition and mutual opposition are included in dissociative processes.

Like co-operation conflict is also regarded as a basic action. In this context A.W. Small says that conflict is the fundamental form of opposition oriented relationship and dissociative interaction. Karl Marx, George Simmel, Rulf Dahrendorf have analysed the role of conflict in social structure.

A.W. Green says that “Conflict is the deliberate attempt to oppose, resist or force the will of another or others.”


According to Gillin & Gillin “Conflict is the social process in which individuals or groups seek their ends by directly challenging the antagonist by violence or threat of violence.

Characteristics of Conflict :

1. Universal Process :

Conflict is 2 universal process. It is found everywhere and at all times. It exists in each and every part of human society. In some societies conflict may be very acute while in some other societies it is very mild.

2. Conscious activity :


Individuals or groups who are involved in conflict are aware of the fact that they are conflicting. The attention of every individual is fixed on his rival rather than on reward.

3. Personal activity :-

Conflict is a personal activity in which the aim of one party is to eliminate the opposite party. The conflicting parties personally know each other. When competition is personalised it leads to conflict.

4. Intermittent Process:-


Conflict never takes place, continuously. It takes place occasionally. No, society can sustain in a state of continuous conflict.

5. Emotional Process :-

The basis of conflict lies in emotion. Due to emotional character of man people get involved in conflict. Due to such character of individual he uses not only fair but also unfair means to attain the end.

6. Dissociative Process :-


Like competition, conflict is also a dissociative social process. Conflict is the fundamental form of opposition-oriented relationship and dissociative interaction.

7. Conflict may be violent and non-violent:-

Conflict may be violent or non-violent in nature. Normally conflict is associated with violence. When it is violent it retards progress of society and when it is non-violent it brings development in society.

Sociologists have given different opinions regarding the types of conflict. George Simmel has distinguished four types of conflict. They are —


1. War

2. Feud of Factional Strife

3. Litigation

4. Conflict of impersonal ideals.


The general form of conflicts are-

1. Corporate and personal conflict :-

Corporate conflict takes place among the groups within a society or within two societies. Personal conflict takes place within the groups.

2. Latent and Overt Conflict :-

The unexpressed and hidden conflict is known as latent conflict. Here individuals or groups do not want to express their feeling of conflict. When individuals or groups express their conflicting feeling, overt conflict takes place.

3. Class-conflict :-

Class-conflict takes place between the classes having different interests. The conflict between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, rich and poor, exploiter and exploited etc. are examples of class conflict.

4. Economic Conflict :-

Economic conflict takes place in economic field. It arises between individuals or groups for securing maximum material benefits.

5. Racial Conflict :-

People belonging to different races when come in conflict with each other then it is called racial conflict. One race may claim superiority over the other and start suppressing the other resulting in conflicts

6. Caste Conflict :-

Caste conflict takes place between different castes. The feelings of inferiority and superiority, holy and un-holy are responsible for caste conflicts.

7. Political Conflict :-

Political conflicts is-found in political field. It occurs when different political parties having different ideologies try to capture political power. It takes place between political parties.

8. International Conflict :-

International conflict refers to conflict between two or more nations or groups of nations. It may take place for political, religious, economic, ideological or for any other reasons.

Functions of Conflict :-

Positive Functions :-

1. Conflict strengthens in group solidarity.

2. It expedites social solidarity.

3. Conflict is an essential element of social change.

4. It brings all round development in the life of individual as well as society.

5. It acts as a cementing factor in establishment of intimate relationship.

6. Conflict leads to the enlargement of the victor group.

7. Conflict changes the relative status of the contestants.

Negative Functions :-

1. Conflict is unproductive.

2. It destroys the lives and properties of the countless individuals.

3. Social solidarity is adversely affected by conflict.

4. It increases bitterness among the people.

5. It may lead to inter-group tension.

6. Conflict causes social disorder.

7. Conflict disrupts the process of co-operation.