Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Stanley Robin

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Walizer

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Wienir

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Problem

The Study of Conflict

The purpose of this study is to examine social conflict. More specifically, latent conflict in the classroom will be the focus of this study. Three classes of variables will be discussed: 1. teacher characteristics, 2. student characteristics, and 3. contextual variables. These variables will be examined as to their ability to explain variation in latent conflict in the classroom.

The following discussion will focus on conflict in education as a "social problem." Previous literature will be examined as to the theoretical and empirical importance of the concept of conflict in social research and a general framework for this study will be developed.

Conflict has been defined as: all relations between sets of individuals that involve an incompatible difference of objective, i.e., in its most general form, activities on the part of contestants to obtain what is available (in whole or in part) to only one (Dahrendorf, 1959:135). Latent conflict is defined as: the possession by two or more groups of incompatible differences of objective. In other words, the potential to participate in conflict relationships.

This is a departure from definitions of conflict that insist upon violence as a necessary condition (Broom & Selznick, 1968:36). This departure is for two reasons. First, on-going violence is very difficult to study and, second, because conflict can be conceived of as progressing from the benign to mortal. The study of the evolution of latent conflict to overt conflict is certainly necessary and valuable, but beyond the scope of this paper. It appears reasonable to assume that "latent conflict" and its processes are related to overt conflict. Thus, the study of one will provide information for the processes involved for the other. Hereinafter "conflict" will be used to mean "latent conflict."

A large category of "practical" reasons for studying conflict has recently become very important in terms of "campus conflicts." These conflicts can manifest themselves in many forms. For example, riots, strikes, parliamentary discussions, formalized debates, etc., have been witnessed. Although recently the intensity and violence of conflict on college campuses has subsided, the phenomenon provides an interesting arena in which to study conflict.