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The Revolution of Conflict Resolution
Samanta Woods 10/09/2019 09:45 AM CST

The Revolution of Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is a comprehensive academic field the substantial evolution of which requires special attention in the realm of disciplines. This discipline deals with ideas, theories, and techniques that can expand the perception of conflict. It also enhances people’s mutual attempts of violence reduction and improvement of political practices for harmonizing concerns. Despite being a new focus of study having emerged in the 1950s, it has quickly developed into a significant interdisciplinary science that effectively puts existing theories into practice in real-world situations. The following article discusses the history of conflict resolution, its evolution, and the modern conflict resolution methodologies.
Conflict may be defined as a disagreement among individuals or groups within an organization. It may be based on factors ranging from the division of responsibilities and resource allocation to the general direction of the organization. Team members often have to work together to complete projects. Working together has numerous benefits including the sense of group accomplishment and the likelihood of building new friendships. However, in the same time, teamwork may build tension or anxiety amongst employees due to a difference in opinions, which may result in conflicts. Projects need motivated team members since they are more resourceful and produce better results. Additionally, communication plays a vital role in motivation since, in most instances, the most rudimentary communication errors result in dissatisfaction or demotivation.
History of Conflict
The organized study of conflict resolution is rather new. However, conflicts and hostile relationships have long been the focus of research and education in such fields as political science, international relations, diplomatic history, law, social psychology, and history. For that reason, the actual history of conflict resolution is on the point of intersection of two or even more disciplines. The contemporary science of conflict resolution, thanks to the ingenious works of numerous theorists, analysts, and practitioners, is currently among the most comprehensive academic fields.
The history of conflict resolution dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, the period of the peak of the Cold War. During this time, the conflict amongst the superpowers and the expansion of nuclear weaponry appeared to threaten the whole humanity. Researchers from various disciplines ventured in the study of conflict as a broad phenomenon. They considered its instances to have similar properties despite their various backgrounds such as international relations, internal politics, communities, families, and among individuals. The study of conflict had the capacity to implement existing industrial relations and community mediation approaches.
The new ideas were appealing to most researchers making the science popular. Scholarly journals emerged in the field, and institutions for studying conflict quickly rose. With time, the discipline was divided into subdivisions. In the subdivisions, there were various groups exploring internal clashes, international crises, social conflicts, as well as various methodologies in the fields of negotiation and mediation and used experimental approach.
At the present time, conflicts occur in all aspects of lives. Team members and employees, for instance, take precautionary steps to avoid them. However, conflicts are indeed inevitable, and the only realistic thing to do is to develop techniques to resolve conflicts as quickly as possible. When they occur, communication is the most important aspect. Communication-based conflict resolution methods tend to improve relationships between parties involved, which ultimately helps to minimize or prevent future conflicts.
First of all, the prerequisites to conflict resolution may include introducing a neutral party with some training in facilitation. The facilitator is considered neutral and does not allow prejudice. Secondly, all parties involved should participate in improving the communication, and thus, work towards conflict resolution. Additionally, all parties involved should be willing to learn and adapt creatively. Those unwilling to revise any part of their stand make conflict resolution much more difficult.
Conflict is a common feature in people’s society. Its origins are in naturally conflictual areas such as psychological development, economic differentiation, political organization, social change, and cultural formation. Conflict has become blatant due to the establishment of opposing parties that have equally conflicting objectives.
Conflicts are characteristically dynamic as they intensify and diminish, depending on numerous factors. They are created by a complex interaction of behaviors and attitudes are adopted in the reality. In this case, third parties may get involved and, as the conflict advances, they may inevitably become one more part of the conflict.
Early theorists such as Morton Deusch differentiated between constructive conflict and destructive conflict. He proposed that the first category was an essential and beneficial trait of human creativity while the latter one was to be avoided. Deusch’s arguments provided the foundation for identifying the normative course of the discipline as a whole.
In the 1950s, the science of conflict resolution categorized itself according to the issue of recognizing destructive human conflicts. Compared to earlier fields, contemporary conflict resolution can probably be characterized as multilevel, multicultural, multidisciplinary, theoretical and practical, and analytic and normative discipline.
Shift in Focus
Conflicts have been loosely defined with regard to debates, fights, and games. However, the notion is a contentious issue. Some theorists have used the term “conflict” to refer to consensual clashes over interests while also using the same term to refer to dissensual conflicts over values. Other scientists, nonetheless, have classified consensual clashes over interest as disputes that demand a settlement. They also use the term “conflict” to describe profounder tussles over unfulfilled human needs that necessitate resolution.
There are several models of conflict introduced and popularized by founders of the field, such as Johan Galtung. Some of them include Galtung’s models of conflict, the conflict escalation and de-escalation model, the hourglass model, and the conflict tree model. There are other classical ideas for conflict resolution. Some of them include the ‘win-lose, lose-lose, win-win outcomes’, the prisoner’s dilemma and the evaluation of cooperation, the positions, interests and needs resolution, the third-party intervention, and the three faces of power.
The classical conflict resolutions mentioned above, however, apply to symmetric conflicts. In asymmetric conflicts, issues occur between different parties, such as an employer and the employees or a majority and a minority. In such a case, the key player always wins. The employer, for instance, will win a conflict between him/her and the employees. The only way to settle an asymmetric conflict is for a third party to collaborate with the underdog.
Contemporary Approaches
New developments and changes in conflict resolution began in the 1990s and suggested a more refined model of conflict occurrence and transformation. The new model shows conflicts arising from social change, taking the next step of non-violent or violent conflict transformation, and, finally, bringing about additional social change. The social change, which once suppressed and disregarded individuals and groups, eventually comes to convey their interests and confront existing power structures and social norms.
During the years, there has been a variation and widening in the scope of third-party intervention. Classical conflict resolution was predominantly concerned with conflict entry as well as how to make opposed parties or potentially contrary incidences to resolve issues in non-violent ways. However, the present-day approach is to consider a broader view of the nature and timing of the intervention.
In the 1990s, for example, Fisher and Keashley formulated a complementarity contingency approach to third-party intervention. This method attempted to share applicable and harmonized resolution strategies, such as mediation, peacekeeping, and conciliation, to conflict phases, which include segregation, polarization, and violence. Within the same decade, Lederach’s model of conflict resolution and transformation was popularized and became influential. This model emphasized the ‘bottom- up’ approach while suggesting that the ‘middle level’ can be used to bridge the two extreme levels.
In 1994, Francis developed Curle’s initial asymmetric conflict model integrating classic conflict resolution tactics with broader strategies for renovating conflicts of this category. In the 21st century, William Ury has established a dominant model that relates what he labels ‘third side roles’ in resolution of conflict to escalation and de-escalation conflict stages.
In general, there has been a shift towards considering conflict through structuralist, constructivist and discourse-based perspectives of social reality. On a broader spectrum, it is beneficial to view both causes for conflict and modifiers of conflict functioning simultaneously across several correlated realms. Ultimately, people’s interpenetration of global, ecological, societal, and personal space progressively characterizes the field of conflict.
In conclusion, the discipline exploring conflicts and ways of their resolution arose less than seventy years ago. However, it has already become the significant science that consolidates the achievements of such spheres as political science, international relations, diplomatic history, law, social psychology, and history. Introducing a third part, which is considered to be neutral, to the conflict is one of the universal methods of conflict resolution. However, there has been a significant shift from considering third-party intervention as the key duty of external bodies towards valuing the duties of internal third parties. Previously, external bodies provided the platform for tackling conflicts through mediation efforts. Currently, existing models emphasize on the urgency to build capacity within societies and study domestic cultures to understand how to effectively manage conflicts over time. A multi-track model is needed, therefore, to replace earlier models, whereby the focus will be placed on the importance of local parties.
The article was prepred by a professional writer from - Samanta Woods.