Conflict Theory According to Lewis A Coser’s Perspective

Conflict can also be positive for the fabric of a society or social group. Well, here is the conflict according to Luwis Coser, which states that conflict has a positive function.

According to Coser’s perspective, conflict theory is a functional social system. According to Coser, conflicts that occur in society do not merely show a negative function. However, conflict can also have a positive impact on the ongoing social order.

For Coser, conflict is a form of interaction and does not need to be denied. Coser means that conflict does not have to be destructive or dysfunctional for the system concerned. Because conflict can also have positive consequences.

Coser gives a picture to us, that conflict is a dispute about values ​​or demands regarding power, status, and sources of wealth whose supply is insufficient.

Furthermore, Coser stated that disputes or conflicts can take place between individuals, collectivities or individuals with the group. We can see the conflict between individuals and individuals, we still remember that when we attended high school we unconsciously created positive conflicts, namely at the level of competition, in competition events, competing to become class winners, and experiencing positive conflict. we’ve been through.

In negative conflicts, we can see the final results of the competition where the results are not in line with expectations, such as fights between football supporters / football fans, coachmen debates that do not teach us lessons, as well as examples of negative conflicts that can harm many communities. Therefore, we should avoid these negative conflicts.

Conflict is an important element of interaction and it cannot be said that conflict is always bad or divisive and destructive. Conflict can contribute a lot to the sustainability of the group and unite / strengthen relationships between its members. Such as facing a common enemy can integrate people, generate solidarity and engagement, and make people forget their own internal strife.

Positive Function of Conflict According to Lewis Coser. Conflict is a way or tool to maintain, unite and reinforce the existing social system. For example, the positive function of conflict is in matters relating to the dynamics of the relationship between the in group and the out group. Here are some propositions made by Lewis Coser:

First, the strength of internal solidarity and inner group integration will increase if the level of hostility or conflict with outside groups increases.

Second, the increased integrity of groups involved in conflict can help strengthen boundaries between that group and other groups in the environment, especially groups that are hostile or potentially hostile.

Third, within the group there is the possibility of a reduced tolerance for division or divisions, and an increased emphasis on consensus and conformity.

  •  Consensus is a phrase to produce or make an agreement that is mutually agreed upon between groups or individuals after debates and research are carried out in the intelligence collective to obtain consensus decision making.
  •  Conformity is a type of social influence when someone changes their attitudes and behavior to suit existing social norms. (Source:

Fourth, deviants in the group are no longer tolerated, if they cannot be persuaded to enter the right path, they may be expelled or put under close surveillance.

Fifth, on the other hand, if the group is not threatened by conflict with hostile outsiders, the strong pressure on cohesiveness, conformity, and commitment to the group may decrease.

Internal disagreements may surface and be discussed, and deviants may be more tolerated. Generally, individuals will get greater space to pursue their personal interests.

According to Coser, the function of external conflict can also be to strengthen internal cohesiveness and increase group morale, so that groups can provoke antoganism with outside groups or create enemies with outsiders in order to maintain or increase internal solidarity.

Tensions that occur in a group due to friction that make the conflict occur. To be able to solve the conflict problems that occur, Lewis Coser has a way or mechanism to be able to reduce or resolve a conflict.

The mechanism that Coser mentioned is called a safety valve or other designation a safety valve. Coser admits that conflict can jeopardize unity. Therefore, it is necessary to have a solution, which is called Coser as a safety valve.

For Coser, this safety valve is an institution (safety valve institution). In the broad order of elements of society, we will find many social interests that may not be fulfilled quickly. There needs to be an institution or institution that becomes the safety valve of these interests, so that there will be no conflict in the community.

Let us look at the legislative institution or body which consists of representatives of the people, such as the Indonesian Parliament in Indonesia. The existence of this institution is as a savior or as a safety valve for high conflicts. This is because each region already has representatives in the realm of delivering the social needs of the community in each region.

Regarding the implementation in the field, it depends on how the community responds and the representatives give what is the right of their constituents. Thus, a large conflict does not need to occur, because there is already a place to convey aspirations.

In addition, according to Coser, safety valves also do not have to be on institutions, they can also be safety valves based on actions or habits that can reduce tension, because conflicts cannot be channeled.

For example, through a joke that is inserted in a tense situation, which can reduce or eliminate the tension at that time, even though the joke itself may still contain critical values.

Coser’s opinion regarding conflicts in which conflict is functional (good) and / or dysfunctional (bad) for relationships and structures that are not encapsulated in the social system as a whole. Coser’s attention is more to the functional conflict, Coser does not see it as dysfunctional.

Coser defines social conflict as a struggle for value and recognition of rare status, then powers and sources of conflict are neutralized or perpetuated, rivals eliminated.

Coser’s view with functional conflict states that conflict can change the form of interaction, whereas the expression of feelings of hostility is not the case. Therefore, conflicts that occur in society, either individually with individuals, or groups with groups, as well as individuals and groups are one way of unifying elements of society.

This is because the conflict that occurs is not always negative, but also positive in terms of uniting various social interests in it.


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Study Sociology at University of Indonesia