Relationship between conflict and cooperation

Conflict and Cooperation in International Relations

relationship between conflict and cooperation

was possible to overcome to a certain degree the conflicts between European . important step that made this relation more concrete was the signature of the. Difference Between Laws and Customs This lesson defines the social processes of cooperation, competition, and conflict and discusses their. Cycle of Cooperation, Competition, Conflict, and Negotiation understand cooperation and conflict as the outcomes of relationship dynamics occurring between.

Also the international system has no doubt changed over the years, there are no major wars, the Cold War finished without any aggression which realists failed to predict and states in general have lost interest in territorial advantage.

Robert Jarvis even believes that realist theory will not be able to explain conflict or cooperation in the coming years. Liberalism was born just after the end of the First World War.

Europe was so shocked by what happened that the politicians wanted to come up with a way to prevent any wars happening in the future. So Woodrow Wilson, the United States president at the time drew up 14 points to create peace throughout the international system and to create way to manage the international anarchy.

Before analysing what obstacles the liberals believe stop cooperation, it is imperative to explain the main debate points between realists and liberalists. Unlike classical realists, liberals believe human nature is good and capable of holding back the aggression.

Their main assumption is that war is not inevitable and there is much more potential to cooperation if the anarchical conditions are reduced. Overall global change is possible. According to idealists if the world were to create international organizations which promote peaceful change, disarmament and international laws, cooperation would be much easier to achieve.

If necessary these international organizations can use enforcement on states. States which are bound by rules and norms created by the institutions will have no choice but to cooperate. In a globalised environment in which the international system is now tied in, new actors like transnational corporations and non-governmental organizations will facilitate interdependence and integration between states which in turn will lead to peaceful international environment.

Liberalists believe that democratic states act peacefully towards one another and most conflicts and threats in the world come from the non-liberal states. To find an explanation for this is not easy, but the evidence is there: Western European states have not been in war with each other since the end of the Second World War. It is possible that after the horrors of that World War, democratic states never want to experience it again.

Another explanation could be that liberal states simply realise that cooperating with other counties is beneficial for them. It is particularly valuable economically especially in a globalised world and a free trade system.

Organisations like the WTO promote free markets and states take advantage of that to increase their economic profitability.

For liberalist theorists the evidence is also there on how organisations like the EU and NATO promote peace and cooperation.

Cooperation and Conflict

While the EU has its disadvantages, the organisation has done a lot for Europe. It has created a common ground between European states, created democracy in 27 countries including former Soviet Union states which were under authoritarian regime and it gives more sovereignty to member states who can decide the policy. So in order for cooperation to work the international system needs to be filled with democratic states with open markets and institutions like the EU to facilitate security.

It is necessary to point out that liberalists agree with realist theory on anarchy, balance of power and self-help international system. The difference is that liberals suggest institutions and democratic states will be able to deal with such obstacles and cooperation will come naturally. Institutionalism has its flaws too however. First of all the major problem with institutions is that the states will only accept these institutions when it is in their favour and in their national interest.

For example the United Kingdom is not accepting the Euro as its currency as it is not in their interest to do so. This suggests that the organisations are not as powerful as states, which leads to realists to come to a conclusion that such organisations cannot facilitate cooperation if a particular state does not want to do so.

Secondly converting countries into democratic, liberal states is not easy, if not impossible. Just by looking at the example of Iraq where United States tried to get rid of an authoritarian leader and promote peace in the country, the plan badly back-fired and created nothing but chaos and disorder in Iraq. Eventually all states may progress towards a democratic political system.

To summarise, realists believe that natural human aggression which is absorbed by individual states existing in an anarchical international system can encourage them to seek power and distrust other states which will make cooperation very difficult to achieve. States are also more concerned with relative gains rather than absolute gains. Liberalists acknowledge the above points made by realists but believe that the main obstacles are the lack of international institutions which provide international law, encourage disarmament and integrate states closer.

Lack of democratic and liberal states is also an impediment to cooperation between states. Can these obstacles be avoided? Yes according to liberalists who encourage us to believe that cooperation has evolved and states are more than likely to trust each other.

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For example the recent nuclear disarmament agreement between Russia and the United States is clear evidence that even past disagreements is put aside and major, powerful states are content with minimising their military power. Realists disagree with that by demonstrating that the nature of world politics has not changed. Even after the end of the Cold War, the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, constant threat of war and chaos in the Middle East and the Iraq War in shows how the world we live in now may not be as safe as we would have hoped.

From the analyses of international relations, it seems, if security is achieved, cooperation will follow automatically. However the concept of security is a sharply contested concept. Scholars also started to believe that security should be centred on people, not the state. Security should provide personal safety to individuals and freedom from threats.

After the decolonisation, the number of states increased dramatically. These states had a very limited time to develop and catch up to European states so therefore the security in the Third World does not just refer to military dimensions but also search for food, health and economic security.


So unlike European states, the security of Third World counties comes from within the states, not external. Will we ever live in a world where cooperation is constant and war and conflict is just the thing of the past? Many predictions have been made about this, but as history shows predictions often turn out to be incorrect and the answer to this question is simply unanswerable. The widening gap between the rich and the poor, food sufficiency, finite natural resources like oil and occasional economic recessions can all lead to more conflict.

The world at the moment looks bleak and only time will tell if we can come up with some solutions to these never ending problems. And leadership training that focuses on overall campaign development, including negotiations, helps to create a more grounded perspective. In the best of circumstances, the momentum based on confidence that confrontation and conflict can be constructive offsets the inertia based on fear that they will be destructive. The tension, then, that begins with the tenants' increased capacity, leads to an active "competition.

The goal ultimately is to win campaigns on issues that will both relieve pressures and realize hopes, and that will build the capacity of tenants' organization itself. On the one hand, if initially the differential in resources between the tenants and the housing authority allows the tenants to demonstrate sufficient power to give the housing authority a stake in negotiations, the competition may lead directly to resolution of issues and some shift in realities.

We will return to the idea of shifting realities momentarily. On the other hand, if the resource and power differential is substantial and there is no hope of getting the housing authority into good-faith negotiations, the tendency will be to move toward conflict. That is, it will be necessary for the tenants to demonstrate their organizational power--their ability to impose costs on the housing authority--as a precondition to achieving negotiations. The conflict isn't for its own sake but to create incentives for the other side to negotiate in good faith, to reach an agreement that resolves the issue.

Cycle of Cooperation, Competition, Conflict, and Negotiation There is, then, a discernable cycle of cooperation, competition, conflict, and negotiation in which these two organizations are engaged. These cyclical stages, along with the shifts in realities that link them, are illustrated in the diagram above.

In the first instance of cooperation, we note that the shift in the tenants' resources leads to competition when the "perceptual reality of [the] more powerful [housing authority is] not congruent with [the] new resources of the less powerful [tenants' organization].

And, lastly, the transition from conflict to negotiation typically reflects a demonstration of power that compels the acceptance of new realities. Theoretical understanding is useful for many reasons. Foremost among them is that we advance our knowledge and skill as organizers through praxis, by the interplay of practice and reflection--a continuous give and take between what we do and our systematic thinking about what we do.

Theory for macro practice isn't for its own sake but to guide action, especially in new and unexpected situations, when we have no prior experience, preparation, or knowledge. Theory also enables us to better analyze past and current events, and to make predictions about the future. Theory allows us to derive practice roles, hypotheses testable propositionsand methodologies for achieving specific organizing objectives.

Field of Social Action Every theory needs a central concept that encompasses the "universe" to be explained, connecting all of its components. Because the idea of a field of social action 1 reflects the main facets of organizing life, it's the centerpiece of this theory. The theoretical definition of the action field includes individuals and collectivities groups, organizations, and institutionstheir social processes, structures, and objectives.

The theory accounts for the dynamics of power and ideology in the political economy, and, in doing so, its action-field definition distills from psychology, sociology, and political-economics, the analytical and methodological tools for macro practice. The pivotal purpose of every organization in the action field of political economy is survival. Organizations must gather resources over and above their costs, to ensure continued life and growth.

They seek resources to secure their domain and to achieve autonomy and movement toward their goals. And their field of action is animated by the cycle of cooperation, competition, conflict, and negotiation over scarce resources.

The action field has two significant dimensions for which we need theoretical explanations. Three paradigmatic social science theories are drawn together here to describe the action field.

The foundation is social learning theory, 2 because all human activity is an extension of individual behavior. Learning theory covers the main psychological factors that account for individual behavior: To avoid explaining sociological processes with psychological theory, and building directly on the behavioral principles of social learning, we employ social exchange theory.

While both learning and exchange theories admit the importance of shared, valued ideas that are linked to centers of power--usually called ideologies--they often leave this realm unexplored, taking its effects as given but beyond their purview. Theory for social construction of reality 4 makes it possible to connect ideology with learning and exchange--and thus to propose a dialectic of social action. In the language of community organizing, rough approximations of these theoretical categories are values, which are equivalent to ideological realities, and self-interests, which are equivalent to learning and exchange contingencies.

relationship between conflict and cooperation

The action-field strands of power and ideology are interwoven in a seamless web. That is, our resources--mainly people and money--are valued not only for their direct effects, but also for broader influence, both within our own organizations and beyond.

relationship between conflict and cooperation

We use them to create shared ideologies i. As already noted, relationships between organizations and institutions in the action field may be cooperative, competitive, conflicting, or in negotiation, and they are invariably in transition from one stage to another.

Contrary to the popular view of the urban political economy as unorganized and chaotic, through this theoretical lens the action field appears comparatively stable and patterned. Much of the "coordination" is not by way of formal institutional arrangements but through realignments that result from competition and conflict.