chapter  6
25 Pages

Structure

While there has been sufficient emphasis on research and practice on cultural and psychological issues, adequate attention has not been paid to questions of social justice and economic inequality as sources of conflict and problems to be resolved. In most analysis, structure has been considered as given rather than conditions to be rectified (a parameter rather than a variable). The role of conflict management has been oriented toward how to maintain or restore order. In the Hobbes’ tradition, human beings are assumed to be inherently aggressive, and thus behavioral control becomes a main concern of conflict management mechanisms. However, diverse structural concerns need to be understood in the examination of overall conditions of group behavior and social processes relevant to managing tensions and animosities. In fact, violent protests in Kenya, frequent social unrest in Nigeria, and Hindu-Muslim violence in India are in one way or another connected to ethnic rivalry and resistance against the hegemony established by state institutions. This chapter discusses the ways in which structural concerns are important for understanding conflict and its resolution. In Burma, Uzbekistan, Sudan, and other undemocratic societies, the deeper causes of conflict can be relegated to the structural features of antagonistic relationships arising from illegitimate institutions (that prohibit fair distribution of power and wealth), but also a lack of mechanisms and processes that rectify systemic failure in conjunction with severe oppression. In this chapter, various types of conflict relationships are interpreted from systems and field theory perspectives. If conflict is considered innate in society, research on conflict resolution should pay more attention to conditions which regenerate animosities and hostilities. Conflicts need to be tackled at source by an adequate understanding of how human behavior is related to social and political processes.