What are the various causes of Conflict ?


Conflict arises due to various reasons. Malthus, the eminent economist says that reduced supply of the means of subsistence is the root cause of conflict. According to him, conflict is caused by the increase of population in geometrical progression and the food supply in arithmetical progression.

According to Charles Darwin, the biological principles of “Struggle for existence” and “the survival of the fittest” are the main cause of conflict.

Sigmund Freud and other psychologist hold the view that the innate instinct for aggression in man is the main cause of conflict. Thus, various causes lead to conflict.


The main cause of conflict may be briefly stated as follows:

1. Individual Difference:

Inn society, men are not alike in their nature, attitudes, ideal, interest and aspirations. Due to this difference, they fail to accommodate themselves which may lead to conflict among them.

2. Cultural Difference: Culture is the way of life of a group. It differs from society to society. The culture of one group differs from the culture of the other group. These cultural differences among the group, sometimes cause tension and lead to conflict.


3. Clashes of Interests: The clash of interests of different people makes conflict inevitable. The interests of the workers clash with those of employers lead to conflict among them.

4. Social Change: Conflict also arises due to the difference between rates of social change. The change in the moral norms of a society and man’s hopes, aspirations and demands leads to conflict .The conflict between the old and new generations is owing to social changes. Conflict is an expression of social disequilibrium.

Types of Conflict

George Simmel has mentioned four types of conflict: (i) War (ii) Feud or factional Strife (iii) Litigation and (iv) Conflict of impersonal ideals.


(i) War:

According to Simmle, war represents a deep seated antagonistic impulse in man. It is a worst type of conflict which aims at the destruction of the opponent. When all the efforts to resolve the conflict between two nations fail, war finally breaks out as it in the only alternative to the peaceful means of solution.

(ii) Feud or Factional strife:

It is an intra- group conflict. It takes place among the members of the same group. The degree of feud varies in groups.


(iii) Litigation:

Litigation is a judicial form of conflict. People take recourse to legal means in the courts of law to protect their right to possessions. This type of conflict is more objective in nature.

(iv) Conflict of impersonal ideals:

When individuals fight not for their personal gain, but for some ideal, it is called the conflict of impersonal ideals. In such a conflict, each party attempts to justify truthfulness of its own ideals. For example, a political party always tries to prove that its ideals are better than that of the other political parties.


There are eminent sociologists like Gillin and Gillin and others who have pointed out five forms of conflict namely, personal, racial, political, and international and class conflict.

Types of conflict

1) Personal Conflict:

Personal conflict occurs on personal level. It arises when the ideals and aims of two individuals clash with each other. The fight of the students for the office of the Secretary of college Union provides a bright example of Personal Conflict.

2) Racial Conflict:

Racial conflict is mostly due to the physical differences. Some races consider themselves superior to other races and there are also races which feel that they are inferior to other. The feeling of superiority or inferiority is the root cause of racial conflict. Conflict between the Whites and Negroes in the U.S.A. provides an example of racial conflict.

3) Political Conflict:

Political conflict arises when different political parties with their own ideologies try to achieve their interest. The main cause of this kind of conflict is power which they want to capture. The conflict between different political parties is an example of this type of conflict.

4) International Conflict:

International conflict occurs among the different nations of the world. It may take place for political, religious economic, ideological or for any other reasons. The conflict between India and Pakistan is an example of such type of conflict.

5) Class Conflict:

Class conflict takes place among classes with their differing interests. In the feudal society there was conflict between the landlords and the peasants. The capitalist society is characterised by the bourgeoisie and proletariat.

In addition to the conflicts discussed above there are a few other forms of conflict. They are stated below:

(i) Personal and Corporate Conflict:

Conflict may be personal as well as corporate. Personal conflict takes place within the groups. It arises on account of various motives, envy, hostility, treachery etc. The group does not derive any benefit from this kind of internal conflict.

Corporate conflict occurs among the groups within a society or between two societies. Race-riots, communal riots, war between nations are some of the examples of corporal conflict.

(ii) Latent and Overt Conflict:

Conflict may be latent or overt. Sometimes individuals or groups do not want to express their feeling of conflict due to some reasons. This unexpressed conflict is known as the latent conflict. In other words, Social tension and dissatisfactions, before their expression in the form of hostile action, are two important kinds of latent conflict.

On the other hand, the overt conflict is the conflict expressed by a part or parties. Latent conflict becomes overt conflict when an issue is declared and when hostile action is taken. The war between India and Pakistan is an example of overt conflict.


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