Fundamentals Seminar 5: Conflict Overlay Factors

Guy and Heidi Burgess make a distinction between core conflict elements that explain what the conflict is "really about," and "overlay elements" which are factors that lie over the core elements, making them more difficult to see and resolve. This seminar introduces what some of those overlay elements are; much more detail is provided about each of these, however, in later seminars.

Essays in this Seminar Include:

  • Core and Overlays Part 2 -- An examination of the Burgess's theory of core and overlaying factors which contribute to conflict intractability. This video focuses primarily on the overlay conflict elements.
  • Frames, Framing and Reframing -- Frames are the way we see things and define what we see. Similar to the way a new frame can entirely change the way we view a photograph, reframing can change the way disputing parties understand and pursue their conflict. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 7, below.)
  • Misunderstandings -- Normal conversations almost always involve miscommunication, but conflict seems to worsen the problem. Even if the misunderstandings do not cause conflict, they can escalate it rapidly once it starts. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 8, below.)
  • Factual Disputes -- Many conflicts involve disagreements over facts. This essay discusses the nature of factual disputes and how to deal with them. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 9, below.)
  • Procedural Disputes/Procedural Justice - These disputes occur when decision making procedures (as opposed to outcomes) are considered unfair.
  • Destructive Escalation -- Escalation is an increase in the intensity of a conflict. The number of parties and issues tends to increase, tactics become heavier, malevolence increases, and overall destructiveness generally increases as well. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 10, below.)

Related Conflict Frontiers Posts

Related Knowledge Base Essays

  • Ethos of Conflict -- A community's ethos is its shared beliefs, goals and identity. Communities in an intractable conflict expand that ethos to explain their approach to the conflict. A community's ethos strongly affects how destructive the conflict becomes.
  • Siege Mentality -- Many societies believe that other societies have negative intentions towards them. But with the "siege mentality," the situation is far more extreme. They believe that the entire world is hostile toward them.
  • Framing - The BI Knowledge Base has a large section on framing, describing many different ways to frame a conflict, and how to reframe for conflict transformation or resolution.
  • Escalation - More essays on different escalation and de-escalation strategies are available here.

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