A Glimpse Into Human Conflicts and Their Causes

There was a time when human conflicts were seen as an inherent part of the struggle for existence. Besides, it was in accordance with the principle of survival of the fittest. According to the English economist Malthus, conflicts happen because of reduced supply of the means of subsistence.

For certain sociologists such as Gumplowicz and Ratzenhofer, an underlying social evolution and progress lead to conflicts among humans. Ratzenhofer was of the opinion that the struggle for life resulted in the conflict of interests. There can be several causes of human conflicts. Here we’ve listed some of them.

Inherent aggression

Sigmund Freud had hinted towards an inherent instinct for aggression in human beings. This is largely responsible for conflicts in the society. Others who shared similar views were sociologists Georg Simmel and Lorenz von Stein. Even the recent anthropological and biological studies support this view. They believe that the presence of aggressive instinct in humans is due to natural selection.

This theory has received criticisms on several grounds. It has been observed by the critics that the theory depends upon the presence of a constant aggressive instinct. They are of the opinion that it fails to explain the absence of conflict and the cycle of conflict. The only thing that the theory explains is the tendency of humans engaging in aggressive behavior.


There are some human fears that give rise to conflicts. Such fears surface when one perceives the other’s advances as some sort of invasion. It can be perceived as an invasion of personal space or property. Some individuals also fear losing a certain position or power to another person.

We can witness conflicts arising out of such fears in our daily lives and interactions. Most of them are sparked by individuals or groups struggling or competing with one another. On a wider scale, such conflicts can be of classes, races, or ethnicities.

Individual differences

No two humans are the same with regards to their nature, appearance, opinions, attitudes, and interests. Sometimes, these differences can lead to some form of conflict between them. In most of the cases, such conflicts happen due to a lack of tolerance for the other’s differences.

Cultural differences

Our world is full of societies and groups having different cultures and traditions. These differences can sometimes cause tension and conflicts between two societies or groups having different cultural backgrounds. For example, there have been wars and persecutions in history owing to religious differences. Even today, it’s not uncommon to hear about communal conflicts in some parts of the world.

Clash of interests

Interests of different individuals or groups can sometimes clash, resulting in conflict between them. For instance, the interests of employees might clash with those of their employers. This often leads to strikes or violent protests. There have been many instances in history where the violent protests led to loss of lives and property.

Social change

All sections of a society don’t change with the same pace. This causes a gap between some sections or generations of people. These generation gaps lead to conflicts between two individuals belonging to different generations. The most common example is the conflict between a parent and his or her teenage kid.

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