Dictionnaire de la Science Politique

Authors: Hermet, Badie, Birnbaum & Braud
Summary: In about 420 words, the entry briefly reviews the two mainstream sociological perspectives on conflict and its relation with social order.
According to the first, advanced by evolutionist sociology and later by the British school of modernization, conflict is the symptom of a dysfunctional division of labor, destined to be overcome by progress and a more rational social structure.
By contrast, sociologists like Weber and Simmel considered conflict not only natural, but also an important source of social change.
The entry closes with a critique of both reductionisms, because, it is argued, any confidence in the possibility either to overcome or to stabilize conflict will be proved wrong by reality.