Conflict Resolution

Theory, Research, and Practice

By James A. Schellenberg

Subjects: Communication
Paperback : 9780791431023, 260 pages, September 1996
Hardcover : 9780791431016, 260 pages, September 1996

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


I. Introduction

Prologue: Out of the Garden

1. The Field of Conflict Studies

Past and Present

Basic Concepts

Distinctions Within Conflict Studies

Conflict Theory (and Theories)


The Plan of This Book

Summary and Conclusions

2. Conflict Resolution Research

Main Methodologies

Further Studies

Summary and Conclusions

II. Theory

3. Individual Characteristics Theories

Dr. Einstein Sends a Letter

Natural Selection and the Killer Instinct

Other Biological and Psychological Considerations

Theories of Social Learning

Summary and Conclusions

4. Social Process Theories

Mr. Smith Returns from France

The Wonderful World of Markets

Competition and Conflict

Interactionist Perspectives

Social Exchange Theory

Other Social Process Theories

Summary and Conclusions

5. Social Structural Theories

A Revolutionary Discovers the British Museum

The Dynamics of Class Conflict

After Marx

Before Marx

Other Structural Bases of Conflict

Solutions to Structural Conflict

Summary and Conclusions

6. Formal Theories

An Ambulance Driver Ponders the Rhythms of War

A Mathematical Formulation of Arms Races

The Mathematical Formulation of Interests

The Theory of Games

Summary and Conclusions

III. Practice

7. Coercion

Fighting over the Falklands

Can Force Really Resolve Things?

Beyond Brute Force

Summary and Conclusions

8. Negotiation and Bargaining

The General Motors Strike of 1970

Formal Negotiations and Bargaining

Negotiation Everywhere

Summary and Conclusions

9. Adjudication

Costs of Negligence

The American Judicial Process

The Law in Action

Summary and Conclusions

10. Mediation

Agreement at Camp David

The Nature of Mediation

The Success of Mediation

Summary and Conclusions

11. Arbitration

Three Cases

The Nature of Arbitration

The Arbitration Process

Some Variations

Decisions in Three Cases

Summary and Conclusions

12. Many Roads to Resolution

The Spink County War

Forms of Resolution

Many Roads

Intractable Conflicts

Summary and Conclusions

Epilogue: A Debate




Reviews classic and contemporary theories of conflict, focusing on five main ways people try to resolve their conflicts--coercion, negotiation, adjudication, mediation, and arbitration.


Broadly defining "conflict resolution," James A. Schellenberg gives systematic coverage to five main ways people may try to resolve their conflicts: coercion, negotiation, adjudication, mediation, and arbitration. The main theories of conflict, both classic and contemporary, are reviewed under four main categories: individual characteristics theories, social process theories, social structural theories, and formal theories.

James A. Schellenberg is Professor of Sociology at Indiana State University. His previous books include An Introduction to Social Psychology; Masters of Social Psychology; The Science of Conflict; Conflict between Communities; Primitive Games; An Invitation to Social Psychology; and Exploring Social Behavior.


"The resolution of conflict in our society promises to become a major professional specialization as the democratization process continues to bring onto the stage of history the needs and interests of formerly suppressed groups. The need for first rate research and thought in this burgeoning area of specialization is great. Schellenberg brings the process of conflict resolution into a wide range of everyday realities so that the reader may become freshly cognizant of the many areas of social life to which the process is relevant and useful. This for many will be an awakening. " — Seth Fisher, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This book is absolutely fascinating. There are many books on conflict resolution, but none, that I know of, take the author's omnibus review approach of formal theory, experiments, qualitative research, classical social theory, etc. The author manages to blend many varieties of theory and research into a seemingly seamless whole that genuinely illuminates an otherwise overwhelmingly large field of inquiry. " — Stjepan Mestrovic, Texas A&M University