The definition of conflict is a state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests. Conflicts lead to tension, hostility, competition, and disagreements over goals and values. "Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.".
It would be difficult to speak of social conflict without first establishing it's origin. Social issues effect everyone and some of us encounter problem's everyday as a result of race, religion, gender, or low income. Karl Max believed that all societies are founded on conflict. Our society promotes general differences in wealth, power, and prestige. Wealth, power, and prestige are qualities that all people desire, but few achieve, thus establishing inequalities in the distribution of money, gender, class, and age. Social class is often defined as the amount of education, income, and status that people have achieved. As we know, attaining education is one of the most effective venues for ensuring employment and increasing income, which adds up to higher status or social class.
Inequality and conflict generate social change. When and inequality is exposed and resolved, there are other inequities following close behind. Conflicts can be positive or negative. Conflicts that could be considered positive are those, which make us, think, or cause us to learn and grow as individuals or as a society. Our democratic society is a good example. Negative forms of conflict are sometimes called destructive. "Destructive conflict is characterized by intense anger and the desire to destroy or hurt one's opponent" (Charon, 190). It seems to me that our society has always promoted destructive conflict, at least from my perspective and experiences. As far back as childhood the parent/child interaction used to have respect based on fear.