Conflict in Sociology Meaning, Definition & Types of Conflict

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 03:19 -- Umar Farooq

Meaning of Conflict

According to Fairchild, "Conflict in sociology is a process or situation in which two or more human beings or groups seek actively to threat each other's purposes, to prevent each other's interests, even to the extent of injuring or destroying the other". It may be organized or unorganized, transitory or enduring, physical, intellectual or spiritual. In the process of conflict, men struggle against one another for the attainment of the same objective. One item of value may be attained through competition in a certain culture and thus the same item, when surpassing the limit of competition, becomes a matter of contest, fight and struggle among people.

Definition of Conflict

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."

A.W. Green: "It is the deliberate attempt to op­pose, resist or coerce the will of another or others."

Horton & Hunt: "It is a process of seeking to mo­nopolize rewards by eliminating or weakening the com­petitors".

Types of Conflict

Direct Conflict

The direct conflict is the one in which people seek to attain some objective by restraining, injuring or destroying one another. Revolution and street fights are the examples.

Indirect Conflict

In indirect conflict the people do not restrain or injure others in seeking their ends but manage to attain their own goals as the opponent cannot approach to his goal in anyway. It means obstruction in rival’s goals is created. Group opinion is colored against the rival about his aims. These are the frequently occurring instances in the social life of people.


  1. Fighting — killing, beating and quarrelling are everywhere found in all social circles.
  2. Litigation-on disputes is commonly found in courts.
  3. Killing, injury, theft and all other crimes of property violation are the result.
  4. In rural areas, two farmers get into conflict on dispute of water channel, on division of land and crops.
  5. 1965 War against' India was a dispute between Pakistan and India.
  6. Family disputes lead to separation and divorce between husband and wife a common example.
  7. During elections the rival political parties get into dispute with the result of loss of life and injury.
  8. Sectarian conflicts sometimes lead to serious disturbances, at various occasions.