Understanding Conflict

Welcome!  This website is the result of a final course project that through individual case studies attempts to identify and analyze the causes and possible resolutions of conflict.

In examining the causes of seemingly unique conflicts, we came to the conclusion that there are indeed similarities that are omnipresent throughout them all.  The five main themes are:

1. Government Policy

2. External Forces

3. Demographics, Health, Characteristics

4. Media, Perception, Propaganda

5. Economics

These factors cause and perpetuate conflict by reducing and flattening complex human identities into one-dimensional entities. This dehumanizing causes tension as different groups of people begin to identify others differently than those people may identify themselves.

Identity-flattening results in two different types of conflict: we have found that conflict arises from the question of immigration and the question of borders. In conflicts resulting from immigration, the fundamental cause of hostility is the lack of integration of immigrants into their new society. Some impediments to successful assimilation include the immigrants’ and their new society’s ethnic, religious, and economic differences. Border conflicts’ underlying cause is political in nature, specifically; political groups that perpetuate border conflicts with the purpose of gaining power. These groups also seek to legitimize themselves by claiming territory for themselves and their support base.

We can generalize that each conflict is caused by a combination of the aforementioned five factors of government policy, external forces, demographic characteristics, media/perception/propaganda and economics, but each conflict has varying severities of each factor. These variations influence how each conflict is unique in its own way.


In order for resolution to be achieved, there must be a change in the five general causes of conflict: governmental policies, external forces, population demographics, media/perceptions/propaganda, and economics. In addition to this, the following must occur:

  • Education
    • In order for peace to be achieved, both people living in the area afflicted by the conflict as well as the international community must be educated accurately about the conflict and its history. This education must strive to be holistic in nature.
  • Time
    • Time must pass in order to accept a new mindset and to create separation from direct personal involvement in the conflict. This often occurs with the birth of a new generation.
  • Movement of willingness
    • With or without the help of external forces, the community must be internally motivated to create change. This change often begins with a specific movement, person, or other catalyst with a particular intrinsic willingness to affect social change.

When the above changes take place in conjunction, individuals are again seen as having complex multi-faceted identities. The complexity allows commonality to form between individuals in the community and therefore promotes healing and prevents further conflict.

Obstacles to Resolution:

The obstacles to conflict are merely reflections of both the causes and the process of resolution. The causes of conflict-culture clash, political interest groups, demographic representations-remain as cultural memory, mobilized by it through political actions and cultural entrenchment due to the new identity formations into further violence and antagonism. This makes the process of resolution complicated because the time line of community actions is not aligned to the time line of identity change, basically the base is changing faster than our acceptance of this change. The education of the community is hampered by fear of change as well as collective action problems.