Typology of political conflicts.

One of the first who tried to classify various conflicts was the American sociologist of Russian origin P.A. Sorokin. He proposed to distinguish between conflicts, first of all, depending on whether they are interpersonal or intergroup, i.e. occur between individuals or social groups.

In the future, the researchers tried to carry out a more detailed classification of conflicts, including in the sphere of international relations. Their typologies of conflicts were developed by such prominent researchers as K. Boulding, I. Galtung, S. Chase, K. Holsti and a number of other authors. It should be noted that there is no single, generally accepted typology of conflicts, since researchers define the very concept of “conflict” in different ways.

In traditional classifications of international or, for example, ethnic conflicts, which are often used in practice, conflicts are distinguished on the basis of:

  • how many parties are involved in them, what are the direct and indirect participants in the conflict. According to this criterion, internal conflicts, interstate, regional conflicts, world wars are distinguished. If there are more than two parties to the conflict, then they are multilateral. Such conflicts are more difficult to resolve;
  • what are the intensity and nature of the conflict interaction, i.e. the conflict is limited only to conflict relations or armed actions take place in it. There is a pattern: the higher the level of hostility, the more difficult it is to resolve the conflict;
  • on what basis contradictions appear (ethnic, religious, ideological, etc.) and what is the subject of the dispute (territory, resources, spheres of influence). According to this parameter, it is difficult to single out conflicts that can be resolved more easily or more difficultly. A particular conflict is often described in terms of a combination of different parameters. For example, the conflict in South Africa in the late 70s – in the 80s was at the same time regional, ideological and ethnic. During the conflict, armed actions were carried out. Third countries were involved in it, including Cuba, which participated in military operations, as well as the USA and the USSR, which actively supported opposite sides of the conflict.

However, among the many different parameters on the basis of which the classification of conflicts is carried out, the balance of interests of the parties is especially important from the point of view of settlement. It is customary to distinguish between two types of conflicts: zero-sum conflict and non-zero-sum conflict . If the interests of the parties to the conflict are completely opposite, i.e. the realization of the interests of one participant means that the interests of the other will not be realized at all, then such conflicts are called zero-sum conflicts. In them, the “gain” of one side is exactly equal to the “loss” of the other, and as a result, the sum of the “wins” turns out to be zero. Hence the name “zero-sum conflict”. The most striking examples of situations in which the interests and goals of the parties are opposite, and the result of resolving contradictions is zero, are sports games: chess, football, tennis, etc. If we are talking about major social, political, international conflicts, then some researchers tend to believe that civil wars are described by a zero-sum situation or close to it. In civil wars, as a rule, participants either win or lose completely.[13] Of course, victory or defeat in the presidential elections (December 26, 2004) can also be attributed to this type of conflict.

The diversity of political conflicts allows them to be typified on various grounds. In domestic conflictology, various criteria are used, which makes it possible to create a multidimensional typology. In particular, horizontal and vertical political conflicts are singled out[14].
horizontal conflicts. The subject of dispute in horizontal conflicts is the distribution of power between various political and state institutions, between different segments of the ruling elite, and contradictions within the political institutions themselves. The result of these conflicts can be personnel reshuffles in government and administration, adjustment of the political course, adoption of new regulations that increase or reduce the scope of powers of individual subjects of power. Let’s take a look at typical conflicts.

  • Conflicts between the main branches of government. The principle of separation of powers lays down the potential for conflicts between the legislative, executive and judicial branches. In democratic countries, these conflicts are regulated by law. Thus, the constitutions of many countries provide for such ways of their legal resolution as the dissolution of parliament, a vote of no confidence in the government, the right to impeach the president.
  • Conflicts between parties and social movements with different ideological orientations.
  • Conflicts between different parts of the administrative apparatus.

Vertical political conflicts develop along the line “power – society”. They are based on different access of social groups to management, different possibilities of influencing decision-making. Power as a subject of conflict acts as a means of access for these groups to economic and social benefits.[15]

Conflict of needs, conflict of interest and conflict of values. Note that there are other typologies of conflicts. In particular, A.G. Zdravomyslov identifies conflict of needs , conflict of interest and conflict of values .

  • The conflict of needs in the sphere of politics is determined by the problem of self-organization of power – democracy, authoritarianism or totalitarianism. It can also manifest itself in the form of a conflict between political practice and morality.
  • The conflict of interest focuses not on the good itself as such, but on a change in the social position that provides the possibility of obtaining this benefit. Since it is the system of power that, with the help of legislation, regulates and consolidates the system of distribution of values, the difference in social interests can be transformed into mutually exclusive political interests.
  • The conflict of values is caused by the mismatch of the system of beliefs and beliefs. The sources of these conflicts are rooted in social ideals, religious and ideological values. It can act in the form of a conflict of political cultures, i.e. as different political values and visions of development goals. The value component is the most important component of interethnic and confessional conflicts in the modern world.

Institutionalized and non-institutionalized conflicts. According to the nature of normative regulation, institutionalized and non-institutionalized conflicts are distinguished. The former obey the established rules of the game, are regulated by regulations, proceed openly and in peaceful forms, the latter gravitate toward spontaneity.
Open and hidden (latent) conflicts. According to the degree of publicity, conflicts can be open and hidden (latent). As a rule, shadow ways of defending one’s powers are characteristic of the relationships between different segments of the political elite.
Real (real) and illusory conflicts. Depending on what reasons give rise to conflicts, one can single out real (real) conflicts caused by objective reasons, and illusory conflicts determined by apparent circumstances, their misunderstanding, a distorted view of the group about their position, the inadequacy of the claims made, false stereotypes. The last type of conflict can often be observed in conditions of socio-economic crisis. Since the true causes of the plight are beyond the reach of people, due to the deliberate misinformation spread by the interested party, the anger of social groups can be directed at the “imaginary” culprits. They may be other peoples, representatives of other classes, other parties. Finally, the ambitiousness of a political leader who uses any excuse to aggravate relations with other political actors can be a source of irrational conflicts.
Violent or peaceful, positive or destructive conflicts. Depending on the forms in which conflicts develop, they can be violent or peaceful , and in terms of their consequences – positive or destructive [16] .

Dynamics of the conflict

Society, like the individual, is in constant development. One of the ways of this development is the conflict, which is a process consisting of certain stages. The dynamics of the conflict is the process of its change.

The dynamics of the conflict includes the concepts of the stages of the conflict and its phases. Dynamic characteristics are all the changes that occur in the conflict, all the features of the development of this process. The stages of the conflict reflect the essential points that characterize the development of the conflict from its inception to resolution:

  • 1. pre- conflict stage : conflict situation or potential conflict.
  • 2. incident
  • 3. escalation of the conflict: conflict actions or the flowering of the conflict, as well as its development
  • 4. Balanced Countermeasure
  • 5. end of the conflict : extinction or transformation of the conflict
  • 6. post-conflict stage

Pre- conflict stage : conflict situation or potential conflict. At this stage of the development of the conflict, there is an increase in social tension and / or the formation of a conflict. This stage is characterized by the realization of the incompatibility of interests and positions, the consolidation of the parties to the conflict; making demands on the opponent.

A conflict situation is the development of a conflict in a specific time period, characterized by accumulated differences that are associated with the activities of the subjects of social interaction and create the basis for a real confrontation between them.

According to Kozyrev G.I. the conflict situation is characterized by dissatisfaction (in which the transformation of subjectively objective relations into subjective ones takes place: the personification of the real or alleged perpetrators of one’s dissatisfaction and the realization that the current situation cannot be resolved by the usual methods of interaction) and social (or mental) tension.

If we talk about the development of the political conflict in Ukraine, or rather about its pre-conflict stage, it is necessary to highlight such features. Of course, the upcoming elections, namely the presidential race, were the ground for the conflict. The differences of opinion between the two main opponents and their negative attitude towards each other were very clear during the campaign period until the second round, but this opposition, in my opinion, significantly softened the presence of another 22 presidential candidates. I believe that this latent confrontation was still held back in every possible way, for example, both sides refused to participate in the debate until the first round. If pressure was exerted by the pro-government candidate, it consisted in the refusal of state television companies to provide time for advertising campaigning of the opposition candidate. Or threats from government agencies to deprive the opposition Channel 5 of its broadcasting license.[17] Also, in pressure on the family of an opposition candidate.[18] The situation with the poisoning of V.A. was also prepared. Yushchenko, and throwing an unknown object at V.A. Yanukovych.

The first round on October 31 passed, passed with various kinds of violations, and both the headquarters of Viktor Yushchenko[19] and the headquarters of Viktor Yanukovych[20] declared this.

An interesting fact is that before the second round, the parties nevertheless agreed to hold televised debates[21], although only after the announcement of the official results, in which less than 1% of Yushchenko leads by a margin.[22]

It should also be noted that during this period between the first and second rounds, the unsuccessful presidential candidates, as well as various political parties, declared their support for the favorites of the presidential race.[23]

This period was also characterized by various methods of black PR, for example, leaflets and posters were distributed with the following content:

“Yushchenko is a liar. So!”, “Say no, nationalism” or “Hitted with an egg”, “Before the bandit”, etc.

Now let’s move on to the immediate connection of the conflict.

The transition of a conflict from a latent state to an open confrontation occurs as a result of one or another incident (from Latin incidens – an event that happens). An incident is a case that initiates an open confrontation between the parties. The conflict incident will be different from its motive. Reason – this is a specific event that serves as an impetus, a subject for the beginning of conflict actions. In this case, it may arise by chance, or it may be specially invented, but, in any case, the cause is not yet a conflict. In contrast, an incident is already a conflict, its beginning.[24]

The incident demonstrates to the participants the presence of a problem, the essence of which may not be clear to them, but the presence of which is recognized. A conflict that started with an incident may end with it. But in the normal course of events, the incident escalates into an escalation.[25]

So, the reason for the start of the conflict was the statement of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine about the mass falsification of the people’s will[26].

The incident of the conflict is the start by the opposition of a mass protest on Independence Square in Kyiv[27].

The escalation of the conflict is the development of the conflict progressing in time, the aggravation of the confrontation, in which the subsequent destructive effects of the opponents on each other are higher in intensity than the previous ones.

The external plan of conflict escalation can be described using the theory of symmetrical schismogenesis (G. Bateson). Schismogenesis is a change in individual behavior that occurs as a result of the accumulation of experience of interaction between individuals. There are 2 variants of schismogenesis:

  • o additional interaction is based on the principle of complementarity of actions (perseverance of the first opponent, compliance of the second or offensive actions and defense);
  • o symmetrical schismogenesis develops when subjects use the same behavioral models (the second opponent responds to the action of the first opponent with the action of the same direction, but more intense).

The escalation of the conflict occurs exactly according to the 2nd option.

The escalation can be continuous with an ever-increasing degree of tension in the relationship and the strength of the blows exchanged between the conflicting parties; and undulating, when the tension in relations either increases or subsides, periods of active confrontation give way to lulls, temporary improvements in relations.

The escalation can also be steep, rising rapidly to the extreme point of violent outbursts of hostility; and sluggish, slowly flaring up, and even for a long time keeping at the same level. In the latter case, one can speak of a chronic, protracted conflict.

During this stage, transformations occur, which conflictologists also call signs of conflict escalation.

Narrowing of the cognitive sphere in behavior and activity (distortion of the conflict situation). As the conflict escalates, the conscious part of the psyche regresses. This process is of an avalanche-like nature, based on the unconscious level of the psyche. It develops in stages, reproducing the ontogenesis of the psyche, but in the opposite direction.

1. Distortion of the COP as a whole:

The nature of the rivalry:

consensus (consent)

disagreement (disagreement)

dispute (ideological confrontation)

tension (wary expectation of unfriendly actions) hostility (dislike)

rivalry (competition according to certain rules)

aggressiveness (separate hostile actions)

violence (limited scope of extreme confrontation)

war (unlimited range of applied means of struggle)

This diagram shows us how distortions develop as a result of a conflict situation.

Forms of reduction (simplification) of the conflict:

  • § simplification of CS elements, reduction from complex to simple, lack of analysis,
  • § schematization of the CS in the form of highlighting certain stable connections and relationships,
  • § reducing the perspective of perception of the situation: only here and now without the past and consequences,
  • § polarization of grades to black and white,
  • § categorical assessments that are not subject to revision,
  • § filtering information and interpreting it according to existing prejudices.
  • 2. Distortion of the perception of one’s own side:
  • § motivation is seen as socially acceptable,
  • § actions as fair,
  • § position as a normative, expedient,
  • § the operational component works according to one of the options: I do everything right, I have to do it this way, it is impossible to do it differently in this situation, it is his own fault that I have to do this,
  • § the perception of oneself occurs with the predominance of white colors.
  • 3. Distortions in the perception of actions, statements, deeds, the motives of the opponent:


ally (assistant in a certain area)

partner (permanent cooperation)

employee (temporary interaction)

adversary (irreconcilable struggle)

rival (opposition on a specific issue)


Opponent evaluation occurs in the following areas:

  • o motives are regarded as vile and base,
  • o actions are seen as unfair and socially disapproved or unacceptable,
  • o position as non-normative, inappropriate, erroneous, unproven,
  • o the operational component works according to one of the options: these are blows below the belt, he only does what is to my detriment, he deliberately does this,

the perception of the opponent occurs with a predominance of black colors: the exaggeration of negative traits, which leads to the creation of the image of the enemy. Its signs are distrust, blaming the enemy, negative expectations.

Spiral model of conflict.

Rubin and co-authors note that if in a conflict situation the actions of the defending side do not cause an escalation in the behavior of the aggressor, then we have an aggressive-defensive conflict model. However, if the actions of the defender cause an escalation in the behavior of the aggressor, the aggressor-defender sequence becomes an episode of a large spiral of conflict.

The spiral model of conflict escalation demonstrates that escalation is the result of actions and reactions forming a vicious circle. Offensive tactics used by the first side cause similar behavior on the other side. This response, in turn, again provokes the first party to new actions, which closes the circle and brings the conflict to a new round. Each side has a growing list of the other side’s sins, and each new grievance intensifies the sense of crisis. Each of us reacts to a provocation, at its own level, and the spiral of conflict continues to grow.

Strong escalation is preceded by two circumstances: a high degree of perceived divergence of interests and low stability. Thus, the stronger the subjective perception of the divergence of interests, the greater the rigidity of tactics to counter the opponent seems acceptable. In addition, sources of stability can be identified:

  • o the presence of links of belonging to one group, friendship or mutual dependence between the parties of interaction (variants of common group membership or a situation of mutual dependence);
  • o the existence of a third party that is ready to intervene as an intermediary, a peacemaker;
  • o lack of excitement or tension in previous communication;
  • o involvement in activities that are outside the given system of relations;
  • o fear of escalation by one or both parties[28].

Considering our situation in the development of the political conflict in Ukraine, we will turn our attention to the development of its open stage.

Recall that an incident in the conflict was the beginning of a protest action by the organized opposition in connection with the falsification of elections. The opposition leader accuses the authorities and the pro-government bloc of rigging the elections in order to come to power. In turn, both headquarters will publish the results of their own parallel calculations, according to which their leaders are winners[29].

The opposition is calling on the people to resist[30], and a tent city is growing in the center of the capital[31].

Next, we can talk about the development of the open stage. Regional state administrations of some western regions decide to recognize Yushchenko as president[32]. In turn, international organizations call for revising the election results[33], and Vladimir Putin[34], as well as some CIS presidents, congratulate V. Yanukovych on his victory[35].

In turn, the opposition begins to block the work of the presidential administration[36] and other government institutions. In these situations, we can really talk about the distortions that take place during the escalation of the conflict, namely, the simplification of the situation on both sides (we are right, but our enemies are not), polarization, categoricalness, the correctness of their own assessments among the participants in the conflict. This can be illustrated by two statements that sounded: “Do you want a president convict?” or “Do you need a man who will sell us to America?”. It should be noted that during the escalation stage, the population was involved in the conflict, namely the electorate of candidates who participated in protests throughout Ukraine. At one time it could be considered that our people were divided on the basis of political sympathy. This was expressed not only in political views, but also in wearing the symbols of the supported candidate. From a political one (a conflict between the government and the opposition), the conflict has in some cases turned into an intergroup and/or even interpersonal one.

It can also be noted that some similar measures were taken by the authorities, for example, supporters of Yanukovych arrived in the capital, who also pitched their tent city, if we talk about Kharkov, rallies in support of both candidates were held in different parts of the square, in this case we can say about the spiral model of conflict described above.

Reasons for stopping escalation:

  • o one of the parties managed to win the confrontation;
  • o the first party can take advantage of the unilateral advantage over the second and end the conflict in their favor;
  • o one of the parties, for some reason during the conflict, decides to voluntarily give in, not considering further escalation an acceptable option for itself;
  • o one of the parties, for some reason during the conflict, decides to withdraw from it and start using the strategy of avoidance, not considering further escalation as an acceptable option for themselves;
  • o there comes a dead point in the confrontation.

The stage of the balance of power or the dead point (dead end) of the conflict.

Some authors (A.G. Zdravomyslov, S.V. Sokolov) single out the deadlock stage : balance caused by the ineffectiveness of the steps taken and the realization of a Pyrrhic victory, paralysis of actions, the search for new approaches and a change of leaders, a reassessment of one’s own interests, the fading of confrontation, a truce, the beginning negotiations. A dead center is a stop in the process of colliding and resisting the colliding. Causes of dead center in the conflict:

  • 1. failure of confrontation tactics;
  • 2. depletion of necessary resources (energy, money, time);
  • 3. loss of social support;
  • 4. unacceptable costs.

Initially, nothing objectively happens at this stage, but at the same time, the attitude of one of the parties to what is happening changes. After a while, both sides come to the unfortunate conclusion that dominance is impossible, but, nevertheless, there is no desire to give up victory by withdrawing or to concede. But the most important consequence of the onset of this stage is the understanding of at least one of the parties that the enemy is an independent partner with whom they will have to negotiate, and not just an enemy. And we will have to negotiate and interact with this partner, which becomes the first step towards the negotiation process, towards a way out of the conflict.

The stage of the balance of power can be marked by the readiness of the parties to negotiate[37], as well as the beginning of consideration of Viktor Yushchenko’s complaint “about systemic violations during the second round, and a request to declare the elections invalid in Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, although in fact it is quite enough to single out this stage difficult and at the same time controversial in the Ukrainian conflict.

End of the conflict.

Conflicts are very diverse, both in form and content, they are ambiguous and changeable, so there is no need to talk about one form of completion for all conflicts or about some universal ways to resolve them.

First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between the completion and resolution of the conflict, these are different concepts. The concept of completion is more general and means any form of its completion. Resolution, on the other hand, implies a more particular case of the end of the conflict, the resolution of the problem that caused this interaction.

Conflict resolution is the elimination, in whole or in part, of the causes that gave rise to the conflict, or a change in the goals of the participants in the conflict (the implementation of actions aimed at ending the collision).

Depending on the type of conflict, different services can deal with it: the management of the organization, the administration of the enterprise, the personnel management service, the department of psychologist and sociologist, the trade union committee, the strike committee and other public organizations, individuals, the police, the court, arbitration, authorities, parties, involved in the conflict (then we are talking about self-regulation).

This is the last stage of the open period of conflict. It means any of its endings and can be expressed in a radical change in values by the subjects of confrontation, the emergence of real conditions for its termination or forces capable of doing so. Often the end of the conflict is characterized by the fact that both sides realized the futility of continuing the conflict and, in general, that “it is no longer possible to live like this.” Although the end of the conflict, generally speaking, may be associated with the destruction of one or even both of its subjects.

At this stage of the development of confrontation, a variety of situations are possible that prompt both sides or one of them to end the conflict. These situations include:

  • a clear weakening of one or both sides or the exhaustion of their resources, which does not allow further confrontation;
  • the obvious hopelessness of the continuation of the conflict and its awareness by its participants. This situation is connected with the conviction that further struggle does not give advantages to either side and the end of the edge of this struggle is not visible;
  • the prevailing superiority of one of the parties and its ability to suppress the opponent or impose its will on him;
  • the appearance of a third party in the conflict and its ability and desire to end the confrontation.

The ways of ending the conflict are also associated with these situations, which can also be very diverse. The most typical of them are the following:

1) elimination (destruction) of the opponent or both opponents of the confrontation;

2) elimination (destruction) of the object of the conflict;

3) change in the positions of both or one of the parties to the conflict;

4) participation in the conflict of a new force capable of ending it by coercion;

5) the appeal of the subjects of the conflict to the arbitrator and its completion through the arbitrator;

6) negotiations as one of the most effective and common ways to resolve the conflict.

By its nature, the end of the conflict can be:

1) from the point of view of realizing the goals of confrontation:

  • victorious
  • compromise,
  • defeatist;

2) in terms of the form of conflict resolution:

  • peaceful
  • violent;

3) in terms of conflict functions:

  • constructive
  • destructive;

4) in terms of efficiency and completeness of the resolution:

  • completely and fundamentally complete,
  • postponed for any (or indefinite) time.

We have already determined that conflict resolution is a special case, one of the forms of conflict ending, and is expressed in a positive, constructive solution of the problem by the main participants in the conflict or by a third party. But in addition to this, the forms of ending the conflict can be:

  • attenuation (extinction) of the conflict,
  • elimination of the conflict
  • the escalation of a conflict into another conflict[38].

Post-conflict period

The last stage in the dynamics of the conflict is the post-conflict period, when the main types of tension are eliminated, relations between the parties finally normalize and cooperation and trust begin to prevail.

However, it should be borne in mind that the end of the conflict does not always lead to peace and harmony. It also happens that the end of one (primary) conflict can give impetus to other, derivative conflicts , and in completely different spheres of people’s life. Thus, the end of a conflict in the economic sphere can give impetus to its emergence in the political sphere; after the solution of a political problem, a period of ideological confrontation may begin, and so on.

Post-conflict syndrome

The end of the conflict can thus be followed by a post-conflict syndrome, which is expressed in tense relationships between the former opponents of the conflict. And with the aggravation of contradictions between them, the post-conflict syndrome can become a source of the next conflict, and with a different object, at a new level and with a new composition of participants.

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