Types of Conflict

There are two aspects that characterise conflicts: their openness and the type of conflict.

Conflict can be concealed or open167; either can cause problems in developing successful landscape-scale approaches to restoration:

• Open conflicts: everyone can see them and knows about them.

• Hidden conflicts: some people can see them and know about them, but hide them from others (particularly outsiders), perhaps because of cultural or social reasons (e.g.,

167 DFID, 2002a;Fisher et al, 2000.

Conflict analysis

Principles Tools


Conflict management

Conflict management

Designing a process (plan)

Designing a process (plan)

Rapport Communication Perceptions

Capacity building

Process management

Figure 18.1. Building blocks in the conflict management process: elements in a conflict situation.

many gender-related conflicts) or because disputes may be embarrassing to the community (e.g., disagreements between young people and elders).

• Latent conflicts: these come to the surface when something changes the status quo. For example, if a restoration project brings benefits (money, power, influence, equipment), their distribution can create conflicts that were not there before the project arrived.

There are also different types of conflict. It is important to understand which type of conflict one is facing since each needs addressing in a different way.

• Interpersonal conflicts: between two or more people relating to personality differences

• Conflicts of interest: someone wants something that another has (e.g., money, power, land, influence, inheritance)

• Conflicts about process: how different people, groups, and organisations solve problems (e.g., legal, customary, institutional)

• Structural conflicts: the most deep-seated type relating to major differences that are hard to address (e.g., unequal social structures, unfair legal systems, economic power biased toward certain stakeholders, or differences in deep-seated values, such as cultural or religious)

Sometimes one type of conflict, perhaps unthinkingly, is disguised as another, for instance a personality clash may be presented as an issue of process.

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