Architecture Room > Emergent Hierarchies > Reducing Intra-Group Conflict

Reducing Intra-Group Conflict

Introduction: This Tree is emergent from PH2-Inquiry and contains all the PH-L4 elements. It comes into play when a group's cohesion is shattered by intense discord and there are doubts about whether you can restore social harmony.

Emergence from PH2-Inquiry

PH2-Inquiry provides the capacity for confident judgements and the development of knowledge. But knowledge often ends up as dogma or ideology governing not only how people think, but how they live, see themselves and relate to others. Mostly there is peaceful co-existence between groups. However, even within a single cohesive group, there may be sub-groups with different needs, ideas, values and customs.

Rival sub-groups cannot simply ignore each other because there is competition for social goods and the levers of power. Inquiry into differences and discrimination is therefore natural. This politics applies as much within a small bowling club or academic department, as to a populous nation. Social cohesion is therefore a precious state that must be constantly sustained by endeavours-proper targeted to engendering member belonging, loyalty, and harmonious interaction.

Group life is dynamic and periodic disagreements and misunderstandings between members of sub-groups are to be expected. There may be low-level endemic prejudices, with periodic confrontations and episodes of injustice. Mostly such ripples of discontent can be handled through members showing a civil tolerance and restraint and expressing goodwill in ordinary exchanges. The group leadership will be expected to promptly and explicitly right wrongs and arrange for fairness.

However, for various reasons, mutual animosity may develop and resist soothing. If the leadership fails to respond, outrages and flare-ups then start occurring over seemingly minor violations of sensitivities. As hostility and distrust build, cohesion correspondingly deteriorates. The group becomes increasingly dysfunctional and riven with discord. Eventually, it starts to look as if it will split or distintegrate.

However, if division or disintegration is undesirable or is intrinsically impossible, then the only alternatives are to leave that group, or to assume a leadership role dedicated to restoring internal harmony by reducing conflict. The way to reduce conflict at a time of intense strife is to use a framework comprised solely of PH-L4 elements which deliver well-being.

With intentions to deliver well-being for your sub-group and/or the whole group, you are taking on the role of political leader.

Example: Groups that form around ideas are particularly prone to intense factionalization and splitting. Religions break up into sects. Political parties, especially those on the Left, commonly struggle to cohere. Psychoanalytic organizations have had numerous splits Closed subdivisions started with secessions led by Jung and Adler. Even within classical psychoanalysis, there has been intolerance. In the UK, the British Psychoanalytic Society has maintained its unity despite 3 subdivisions; but similar pressures in France led to a series of new psychoanalytic societies. Similar splits are evident world-wide. See a psychoanalytic view.

ClosedMore on Life's NecessitySustaining Social Cohesion

Any social group has a number of sub-groups with their own identities. Associations have their factions that coalesce around a particular policy or personality. Academic disciplines may spawn groups built around rival theories or programs of inquiry. Communities have groups distinguished by their occupations and wealth (e.g. socio-economic classes); or by distinct ideologies or ways of life (e.g. religions).

When you become a member of any group, you inevitably become part of one of the competing factions, like it or not. Those factions have political leaders who speak for the members. Only the leadership of the whole group is, by definition, expected to rise above factional loyalty. This framework addresses the mindset of someone in any of these political roles.

If group leadership is captured by one of the factions, then splitting becomes much more likely. Within a nation, civil turmoil or even war may occur. This is the current situation in Syria (Alawites in power, Sunni majority) and Bahrain (Sunni in power, Shia majority). Singapore was founded with a population of Chinese, Malaysians and Indians, following race riots in 1964. Although the Chinese were and are dominant, Lee Kwan Yew gave racial harmony and religious tolerance the highest priority and used the law to create a unique national identity which recognised racial consciousness.

Why the Framework is all PH-L4s

It is hard to maintain well-being when factional rivalry erupts. Atmospheres start reeking of hostility, explosive emotions are sensed under the surface, and there is excessive sensitivity to any manifestation of sub-group identity. Yet without its members experiencing well-being, a group cannot remain intact for long.

Investigations into the Root Projection to Primary Hierarchies suggested that PH-L4 elements (within their Primary Hierarchy) are constructed under a psychosocial pressure for well-being (probably with a distinct neurophysiological underpinning).

The Tree framework constructed out of PH-L4 elements can therefore be expected to be dedicated to the provision of well-being. Being a Root Tree, each level (KL•) will also retain its usual psychosocial pressures.

Note: The process here assumes that group members are willing to tolerate the inner discomfort, even pain, fury or distrust, that differential rewards and burdens engender i.e. there is a strong link to Experience-RL4.

ClosedConsider Alternatives

Renewal & Recovery

Summary Only: This is an abbreviated overview of the Tree with a focus on the Willingness element. A fuller account is provided in the next topic. Understanding the various Primary Hierarchy elements is assumed. For more details within the Architecture Room, review the relevant part of the Root Projection section.

The heart of the framework is KL4: Feel Good Compromising. The strife is about one or more sub-groups not receiving its due and being devalued or oppressed. This leads to bad feelings. To recover, every group must get something and feel better treated. That is possible, but only if each gives way on some matter and reduces their demands. The idea is that every time one group gives another receives: so, if all give, all receive. There is no alternative to being flexible and welcoming compromise. As a leader or politician within your group, you cannot avoid responsibilities and nor can you exit. You must fight for your group (whether it is a sub-group or the whole group). Fighting here involves welcoming, developing and fostering compromises that you can feel good about. The degree of discord means that compromising must be judicious, and that is why it needs feeds from other Centres.

Feeding into Compromising from above are the 5 Centres that enable renewal of the diverse endeavours-proper that sustain group cohesion.

Symbols-KL7 unite any group. So respecting all symbols is necessary to respect all sub-groups. This serves as challenges to the compromises.

Respect for symbols should enable stability-KL6. They must focus a negotiating stance that is constant, and demand maintenance of a viable truce till negotiations are complete. Constancy shows you are committed to finding compromises, and a stable truce provides situational support for compromising.

Then you must carefully measure-KL5 as best you can what is at stake. You need cost-benefit analyses for your group, and you must appreciate the calculations of all other political leaders in relation to any proposal. That will make your compromising realistic and ensure you accept the need for compromises.

Feeding into Compromising from below are the 3 Centres that enable recovery of a viable modus vivendi within your social group.

The primary aims-KL3 of the group as a whole and of the sub-groups require promotion. Above all, you must insist on the rationale for your group's existence. This is the encouragement for efforts to find compromises. But, more importantly, you must openly support the aims of the all other groups to get credibility.

Ideas-KL2 are the basis for differences and the road to their resolution. Ideas should be used to energize compromises-KL4. These ideas must align with sub-group aims and reaffirm the group's rationale.

Bypassing Compromising to connect Renewal with Recovery. There are two levels essential for reducing conflict effectively: cost-benefit analyses (KL5) and primary aims (KL3). Your cost-benefit analyses for your group must validate your support for rationales of all groups. Your appreciation of their calculations should justify your insistence on your group's primary aims.

Final Common Path: A wide variety of interactions need to be handled and so a repertoire-KL1 of responses needs deployment. In your position as leader, you have many options at your disposal to bring people together. You must activate your repertoire to confirm the ideas that are your reliable reference points, and vice versa.


Previous updating: 24-Mar-2014. Last updated 24-Jan-2015.




All material here is in a draft form. There will be errors and omissions. Nothing should be copied or distributed without express permission. Thank you.Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016. All Rights Reserved.


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