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Some definitions

About conflict


“A conflict is a struggle and a clash of interest, opinion, or even principles. Conflict will always be found in society; as the basis of conflict may vary to be personal, racial, class, caste, political and international. Conflict may also be emotional, intellectual, and theoretical, in which case academic recognition may, or may not be, a significant motive. Intellectual conflict is a subclass of cultural conflict, a conflict that tends to grow over time due to different cultural values and beliefs.”


The following definitions are based on the T-Kit 12: Youth transforming conflict

There are many ways to define conflict, and many definitions of conflict. However, the recent general trend has been to consider conflict as something normal, an everyday social phenomenon, and a simple and natural characteristic of human social systems.


Conflict resolution styles are:

  • Competition (win-lose, the focus is on the goal, not on the relationship)
  • Compromise (finding a middle that suits everyone)
  • Submission (giving priority to one party in order to keep good relationships)
  • Avoidance (leaving both the goal and the relationship in order not to confront)
  • Cooperation (creative win-win options to please everyone)

The aim of conflict resolution is to completely resolve the conflict so that all the needs of the parties are met and the conflict disappears. It is based on solution-finding and problem solving. Mediation and negotiation can be important interventions for conflict resolution.

Conflict resolution

Conflict management involves taking action to keep a conflict from escalating further. It does not necessarily aim at addressing the deep-rooted and long-term issues that underlie the conflict, but rather to control the evolution of a conflict.

Conflict management is based on the idea that the way in which we manage a conflict may be negative or positive, but that conflicts, as such, are neither. Conflicts are neutral per se but their course and consequences are determined by the actions of the parties which can be negative and destructive, or positive and productive.

Conflict management

Reference to conflict transformation has become increasingly popular since the late 1990s. For some, it represents resolution at the deepest level. For others, it is a significant step beyond even the resolution of the conflict, as it reflects a more profound understanding of the nature of conflict than any other approach, and works towards sustainable positive peace on a permanent basis over the long term.

Conflict transformation aims at shifting how individuals and communities see their differences away from win-lose (adversarial) approaches towards win-win (collaborative) problem solving. Conflict is seen as a never-ending process, because the nature and manifestations of conflict are ever changing. Hence, conflict transformation engages with the conflict and its actors on multiple levels over the long term in order to develop understanding and skills that empower everyone involved to coexist peacefully. Conflict transformation considers that once a conflict occurs, it changes or transforms the events, people and relationships that created it.

Conflict transformation

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