Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

An active disagreement between people with opposing opinions or principles that usually leads to violent acts of aggression.

explanatory context


analytical review

Elwell's Glossary of Sociology (undated):

Conflict. A clash of interest (sometimes escalating to active struggle) between individuals, groups or society.


Raynet Sociology Glossary (undated):

Conflict (conflictual): A view that sees society and social phenomena, past, present, and future, as a result of conflict (a social process). Conflict is seen as a creative, inevitable fact of social life and not merely a destructive avoidable deviation. Conflict is generally held to be inevitable because of the inherent limitation of a finite universe of "knowable" social reality and because of misunderstandings in communication. Conflict is usually direct conscious struggle between individuals or groups for the same goal (as compared with competition, which can take place without contact and individuals and groups being aware of others striving for the same goal) with the intent of the individuals or groups involved to inhibit the goal striving and goal attainment of others.


Raynet Sociology Glossary (undated) also defines social conflict as follows:

Social conflict: Open struggle over either values and meanings or property, income, and power, or both. Social conflict derives out of inequality of power and authority within and between social organizations.

associated issues


related areas

See also:

conflict theory


Elwell's Glossary of Sociology, undated, available at, page not available 20 December 2016.

Raynet Sociology Glossary, undated, available at, no longer available 20 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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