Numerous approaches in the social sciences either refuse to consider or minimize the importance of conflict in community, or else replace it with a Spencerian vision of the social struggle. Between these two extremes there is considerable space for us to consider conflict as a relationship; this is what differentiates it from modes of behaviour involving war and rupture. Sociology suggests different ways of differentiating various modes of social conflict. The question is not only theoretical. It is also empirical and historical: have we not moved, in a certain number of countries at least, from the industrial era dominated by a structural social conflict in which the working-class movement confronted the masters of labour, to a new era dominated by other types of conflict with distinctly more cultural orientations? Whatever the type of analysis, the very concept of conflict must be clearly distinguished from that of crisis, even if materially the two coexist in social reality.
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