Cultural Conflict Worldwide: Types & Locations

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  • 0:00 Cultural Causes of Conflict
  • 1:10 Religion
  • 2:00 Ethnic Causes
  • 2:40 Linguistic Differences
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Think that people who wear wedges of cheese on their heads to football games look crazy? Or could you not imagine watching a game any other way? If you have an opinion on that, then chances are you can understand cultural conflicts, too.

Cultural Causes of Conflict

Have you ever found yourself cheering against your least favorite sports team? Let anyone win but them, that's the attitude, right? When you really think about it, it sounds pretty silly. After all, chances are that whatever team it is, there's probably someone who loves them that is a lot like you. In fact, you're probably close friends with someone like that. And yet, whether it's the Giants versus the Dodgers, the Bears versus the Packers, or Auburn versus Alabama, we all still cheer against our least favorite teams.

For many of us, sports are similar to culture. It's hard to explain what Packers fans feel when they walk into Lambeau Field, but suddenly it's perfectly acceptable to wear wedges of cheese as hats. Likewise, culture also encourages us to do things that may look silly to others. Texans wear cowboy hats and boots, and while it's perfectly normal in Texas, it looks downright out of place in Maine. Now, expand those cultural differences to between countries, and you have the same rivalries at play that exist in a heated sports match. Suddenly, you've got the roots of cultural conflict.


There's no cultural element that causes upset tempers as much as religion. In the West, we have freedom of religion, but think about how it must be to be a member of a minority religion in a place without religious freedom. Needless to say, it wouldn't be pleasant.

More than just a connection to our ancestors and guidance on how to live, religion also tells us what comes after death, and that's a big question that most people ask themselves at least once in a lifetime. As such, many people feel that religion is more important than life itself. Need proof? Look back into history at the wars forged between Catholics and Protestants in Europe, or the current conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims in many parts of the Middle East. Religion still causes deep conflicts.

Ethnic Causes

Ethnicity also has a real role to play when it comes to conflict. Different ethnic groups can blame each other for problems, and sadly, this is far too common. Blacks and whites were set against each other in South Africa, with the whites having much of the power, under the apartheid system. In short, it raises a simple question - how can people who are officially discouraged from talking to each other ever be expected to live peacefully in a single society?

Today, ethnic tensions continue to flare worldwide. China, for example, with more than 50 officially recognized ethnic groups, has faced real criticism for the way that it delegates power to different groups. Some of these protests, especially in the northwest, have led to violence.

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