24 Pages

Development of models for application to conflict problems

Conflict is not an easy subject to deal with. Like many subjects in the social sciences, it is too easily regarded as something which everyone knows about and has the ability and the right to discuss. The right should not be questioned, but the ability and the knowledge is more difficult to accept. It would generally be agreed that, in the physical sciences, awareness and experience of light, heat, and sound does little to fashion an expert; that, in the natural sciences, an awareness of life does not provide an adequate qualification. Yet, the average well-informed man may readily lay claim to being something of a historian, a psychologist, an observer of international affairs, or a student of industrial unrest; he may see himself as well-versed in bar­ gaining and as having the ability to interpret facts sensibly and come to rational decisions. If we compare the subject of conflict with any equivalent complex physical, as opposed to behavioural, pheno­ menon, we find that few have studied it deeply and conceptually, and none has yet been able to place it in an adequate and logical systems framework. It is the latter task which we shall discuss, because, with­ out such a framework, even good ideas will themselves generate con­ flict, the very thing they purport to explain.