Conflict and Conflict Resolution Term Paper

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Conflict and Conflict Resolution

Conflict & Conflict Resolution

A theoretical perspective

Discussion of Various Theories

Rational Choice Theory

Charles Tilly's from Mobilization to Revolution

Durkheim's Concept of Anomie

Relative Deprivation Theory

Suicide Bombing in the Light of Rational Choice Theory & Tilly' Collective Action

Palestine-Israel Conflict & Relative deprivation theory

Burton's Version of Conflict Management

Tilly's Conflict with Relative Deprivation Theory

Discussion of Various Theories

Rational Choice Theory

Economics is one of the governing fields when it comes to social sciences. It presents an idea that money acts as a source of motivation and the probability that one can make profits by following a certain pattern has given rise to a rather predictable human behavior following a formal construct. This success of economics has made other sociologists to follow a similar logic in their theories as well and many of them have constructed their theories around a simple notion that every action has a rational basis and the individuals and entities perform a cost-benefit analysis before making any decision. This approach is called a rational choice theory or in the language of social sciences, "exchanges theory" (Browning et al. 2000)

B: Charles Tilly's from Mobilization to Revolution

In his work, From Mobilization to Revolution, Charles Tilly has given extensive account of basic ideas which later on became important in the process of theorizing the social revolutions. As per Tilly, there is a difference between mere mobilization of resources and revolution. Similarly, there is a distinguished line between a revolutionary situation and revolutionary outcome. As per Tilly, the social groups who are intending to bring revolutionary changes need efficient resources such money, human resources, media support etc. For the success of their cause however where these resources need to be efficient, the organization is more important than the resources alone (Tilly, 1978, p. 1-57). Charles Tilly presents a political view of a resources mobilization theory and illustrates that it is organizations that should be goal-oriented and be able to bring about social movements with a certain financial, organizational and other controls over the revolutionary outcomes. He presents the idea that revolutions only take place when those challenging power are in a state of mobilizing various forms of resources and the revolutionary outcome takes place when this mobilization is greater than the capacity of the state to mobilize its coercive, material, and administrative resources (Li, 2012).

C: Durkheim's Concept of Anomie

Emile Durkheim first coined this legendary term in his book, "The division of labor in society" in 1897. His concept of anomie described a state which refers to the lack of social norms or normlessness. It refers to the breakage of social bonding between the person and the community that he earlier belonged to. This lack of social adherence results in disintegration of social individuality and leads to absence of self-regulatory norms. He perceived this state as a rule which presents absences of other rules or in other words, 'derangement'. As per Durkheim, The conflict between the evolved organic division of labor and the homogeneous mechanical type was such that one could not long exist in the presence of the other. He used this idea to present the rationale of industrialization as the individuals could not confirm to the social norms surrounding them which lead to industrial change. He concluded that normlessness is a symptom of anomie which would lead to evolution of new self-regulatory rules (Orru, 1983, p. 499-518).

D: Relative Deprivation Theory

Relative deprivation theory is based on an idea of feeling that the individuals experience when they compare themselves to others and believe that they have been offered / provided less than what they are entitled to. It further explains the feeling of discontent which exhibits after experiencing deprivation (which can be of social, economic and political nature) of something that one believes to be justifiably theirs. This theory has important implications on the behaviors of individuals as emotions arising under this feeling can cause stress to the individuals, politically manipulated attitudes and contribution to any form of collective action (Morgan, 2003, p.71). The most evident examples supporting this theory are various social movements such as civil war, recent wave of terrorism, rioting etc. (Walker & Smith, 2001, p.1-91).

2: Suicide Bombing in the Light of Rational Choice Theory & Tilly' Collective Action

The rational choice theory and Tilly's work provide two different set of justifications for suicide bombing. Considering the rational choice model, a material or any other form of gain act as a source of motivation for the individual. The idea is drawn from the economics view of profit making which insists that a human behavior can be altered or directed in a certain manner by providing a source of motivation. In today's world, most of the suicides bombing attacks are undertaken by Muslim terrorists groups. If we try to understand their ideology, we would come to know that if a Muslim fighting in perusal of justice (as defined by their religion) dies, he will be offered many gains and blessings in the after-life. Also, the idea of seeking revenge or causing harm to the enemy is so overwhelming offering such great benefit that giving up one's life appears to be the minimum cost that they have to bear. Considering these two points, the rational choice theory suggests that the sole decision of a suicide bomber is based on a cost-benefit analysis. Here, the benefit offered by the whole action is causing harm to the enemy (which cannot be mitigated) and benefits of afterlife provide a complete rationale for this particular decision (Olsun, 1965, p.106).

On the other hand, Tilly provides a model of political rebellion. He explains that the suicide bomber adheres to a certain set of beliefs shared by group of contenders challenging social power dominions. These dominions are formal structures bearing major dominance in the society. It is collective political contention which forces the individual to perform a suicide as an act of sacrifice in the path of a noble cause which would benefit one's community or the relevant group. It is the power of collective action which provides the bomber a feeling of content and makes him believe that he/she is playing role in the social revolution. It is the collection action of violence which persuades the suicide bomber that the struggle would take an advance turn and would move from a primitive level to reactive or proactive level due to this act. Hence, it would be more effective and would lead to the achievement of noble cause (Hunt, 1984, p.253-264).

Where both the theories offer grounds for a similar act, they are based on common grounds as well. There is a motivating force which provides reasonable justification to the suicide bomber for his or her act. However, the nature of motivation is a distinguishing factor which draws a line of distinction between the two theories. Where rational choice theory offers personal gains for such act, Tilly's work focuses on adherence of one to the collective cause. Rational choice theory act as a source of personal satisfaction to the bomber and make him believe that he will receive personal gains out of this act, Tilly argues that the bomber does seek satisfaction based on the comfort that others will enjoy out of his act. Both the theories can be used as a source of crime prevention dependent on the source of motivation for the suicide bomber. Where the bomber believes that an after-life gain is waiting for him, rational choice theory will be the active theoretical factor otherwise Tilly's work needs to be considered.

3: Palestine-Israel Conflict & Relative deprivation theory

Relative deprivation theory explains the emergence of emotions after comparing one's social, political or economic state to other individual or group. The notion explains that the individual or the group of individual perceive something to be justifiably theirs however the failure to occupy it leads to the feeling or discomfort, stress, frustration and trauma. Under the influence of these determinant forces, individuals act in a certain way which can also have collective involvement of a group of individuals in a certain act. In order to understand how the relative deprivation theory implies to the current Israel-Palestine issue.

The conflict arose when a minor Jewish group called the Zionists migrated to the then territory of Palestine and after gaining strength in that area claimed the proprietary rights to it based on historical religious factors. Conflicts emerged between the local Muslim community which was the majority and the Zionists who had better military power than Muslim Civilians. In 1948, the United Nations intervened and instead of giving rights to the local residents to decide their fate, it gave a unanimous ruling that the particular area would be divided into two states. The decision was not accepted by the Arabs and local Palestinians who lacked necessary military power and after forceful acquisition of the Palestinian area by Israel; the situation has worsen and is still unresolved (Rabinovich, 2011, p. 5-11).

Irrespective of the political…

Sources Used in Document:


Burton, J.W. 1997. Violence explained: the sources of conflict, violence and crime and their prevention. Manchester University Press ND

Browning, G., Halcli A. & Webster, F. ed. 2000. Understanding contemporary society: theories of the present. Sage Publications

Hunt, L. 1984. Charles Tilly Collective Action, In. Skocpol, T. ed. Vision and method in historical sociology. Cambridge University Press, pp. 244-275

Li, R.S.K. 2012. Conflict theory in comparative/historical sociology. Retrieved from

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