There are two processes of social interaction- associative process and dissociative process. Associative process comprises of positive type of interaction which brings stability and progress in the society. But, on the other hand, dissociative processes are the negative type of interaction which often work towards disintegration in society. This includes (i) competition and (ii) conflict.
Competition is a less violent form of opposition, in which two or more persons or groups struggle for some end or goal. Attention is focused on the reward or the goal rather than on the competitor. It is based on the fact that people can never satisfy their desire. Competition takes place whenever there is an insufficient supply of things that human beings commonly desire. There is no competition for sunshine and air which are unlimited. Competition is an effort to outdo the competitor in achieving some mutually desired goal. Its aim is not to banish or destroy the opponent. The competitor observes rules of the game which eliminate force and fraud. When these rules are broken, it becomes conflict.
According to Bogardus, “Competition is a contest to obtain something which does not exist in a quantity sufficient to meet the demand.”
Mazumdar defines competition “as the impersonalized struggle among resembling creatures for goods and services which are scarce or limited in quantity.”
(1) Competition is impersonal struggle.
(2) Competition is an unconscious activity.
(3) Competition is universal.
(4) Competition is a cause of social change.
(5) Competition may be constructive or destructive.
(6) Competition is continuous.
(7) Competition is dynamic.
(8) Competition is always governed by norms.
(9) Competition is the source of motivation for the individuals.
Value of social functions of competition:
Competition like co-operation is indispensable in social life. Competition performs useful functions in a society.
(1) Competition determines the functions of individuals.
(2) Competition is conducive to economic as well as social progress.
(3) Competition is a source of motivation.
(4) Competition provides better opportunity to satisfy their desire.
According to H.T. Mazumdar, competition performs five positive functions:
(1) It determines the status and location of individual members in a system of hierarchy.
(2) It aims to stimulate economy, efficiency and inventiveness.
(3) It tends to enhance one’s ego.
(4) It prevents undue concentration of power.
(5) It creates respect for the rules of the game.
Conflict is universal and occurs in all times and places. There never had been a time in which some individuals or groups did not come into conflict. It arises primarily from a clash of interests within a group or society. Conflict is, in other words, a competition in its more occasional, personal and hostile forms. It is an ever present process in human relation which seeks to obtain rewards by eliminating or weakening the competitors.
According to A.W. Green, “the deliberate attempt to oppose coerce or force the will of another or others.”
According to Horton and Hunt, conflict is “a process of seeking to monopolise rewards by eliminating or weakening the competitors”.
According to Young and Mack, “Conflict lakes the form of emotionalised and violent opposition in which the major concern is to overcome the opponent as a means of securing a given goal or reward.”
(1) Conflict is affected by the nature of the group.
(2) Frustration and insecurity promote conflict.
(3) Conflict is always conscious.
(4) Conflict is personal.
(5) Conflict is not continuous but occasional.
(6) Conflict is universal.
(7) Conflict may be personal or impersonal.
Role of conflict:
H. T. Mazumdar mentions the following role of conflict:
(1) Conflict leads to redemption of value system.
(2) Conflict may lead to change in the relative status of conflicting parties.
(3) Conflict may lead to new consensus.
(4) Conflict tends to still en the morale and promote the solidarity of the group.
(5) Conflict may lead to change in the relative status of conflicting parties.
(6) Conflict, concluded with victory, leads to the enlargement of the victor group.
Competition is always governed by, moral norms while much of conflict is not, as proved by the maxim “Everything is fair in war”. The line dividing competition from conflict is thin. The desire to attain one’s ends for one’s self is often so strong that competition crosses over into conflict.