Social Processes: Cooperation, Competition & Conflict

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  • 0:03 Why Can't We All Get Along?
  • 1:06 What is Social Process?
  • 2:15 Intersections and Differences
  • 3:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Gaines Arnold

Gaines has a Master of Science in Education.

Expert Contributor
Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

People work together, strive with one another, and have personal issues that drive conflict. This lesson defines the social processes of cooperation, competition, and conflict and discusses their similarities and differences.

Why Can't We All Get Along?

Building a business had always been the biggest goal of Brady's life. He wanted to start it on his own and make it a proposition of which he could be proud. He had learned how to use a smoker from his mother and had several good family spice rub recipes that he was going to use to start a barbecue place. He had help getting the restaurant started, and the day came when he was able to open his doors.

Before he got into the business, he checked the competition and determined the best place to locate. He had a good location in the town and no other barbecue restaurants within a couple of miles. Unfortunately, there was a long-established Chinese restaurant right next door. He began to have problems with the owner of that restaurant as soon as he opened, and the antagonism just got worse.

Brady was realizing his dream, but he was also beginning to realize that he couldn't have opened without the cooperation of those who had helped him. He also saw that there was always going to be competition for customers and conflict with other business owners. Brady was in the midst of a class in social processes whether he wanted to be or not.

What Is Social Process?

The term social process describes a change that is consistent within a society over time. Though many of these processes have been defined, the processes of cooperation, competition, and conflict are three of the most common and stable within a society. These three processes, along with the others that have been defined, are seen as interactions between individuals within a society.

When people interact, there are a few outcomes that can happen. Among these possible outcomes are:

  • Cooperation, which is when two or more people have a common goal that they work together to accomplish.

  • Competition, which is when two or more people strive against one another to gain possession of some good or service.

  • Conflict, which is a deliberate action in which one individual attempts to thwart the will of another.

Direct cooperation is when people cooperate dependently, meaning they work directly together. Indirect cooperation is when people are working independently, separately, toward the same goal. Competition occurs in many endeavors such as athletics, business, and among nations. The concept of conflict is very broad and encompasses many different types of actions.

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Additional Activities

Social Processes: Cooperation, Competition & Conflict - Discussion and Observation

In this extension, students are encouraged to think critically about the social processes covered in the video lesson and then to observe examples of these same processes in the real world.

Discussion Questions:

  • What are social processes?
    • Do you believe that there more processes than the ones covered in this lesson?
    • What are these processes?
  • Do you think that cooperation is a healthy social process?
    • Should everyone strive for full cooperation with each other?
    • Is this a realistic goal?
    • Can it ever be unhealthy to strive too strongly for complete cooperation?
      • Explain.
  • Is competition good or bad?
    • Explain your answer.
    • Discuss a scenario that opposes your initial response.
  • Is conflict a negative or positive social process?
    • Is it possible to grow and develop without conflict?
    • How much conflict is too much conflict?

Observational Study:

  • Students should go to a busy playground or other area in which people must work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Observe the goings on for one hour, noting these things:
    • How many people are engaging with each other?
    • When they engage with each other, is the interaction cooperative, competitive or in conflict?
    • Which types of interactions end in a positive way?
    • Which types of interactions seem to cause negative reactions?
    • Do those that have interacted with competition and/or conflict return at another time to interact with cooperation?
  • After their observation time, students should write a brief summary of their findings including a summary of their own thoughts regarding these social processes.

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