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Conflict management refers to the long-term management of intractable conflicts. It is the label for the variety of ways by which people handle grievances -- clashes of right and wrong. Those ways include such diverse phenomenon as gossip, ridicule, lynching, terrorism, warfare, feuding, genocide, law, mediation, and avoidance. Which forms of conflict management will be used in any given situation can be somewhat predicted and explained by the social structure -- or social geometry -- of the case.

Conflict management is not the same as "conflict resolution." The latter -- conflict resolution -- refers to resolving the dispute to the approval of one or both parties, whereas the former -- conflict management -- concerns an ongoing process that may never have a resolution. For example, gossip and feuds are very common methods of conflict management, but neither entails resolution.

The scientific study of conflict management (also known as social control) owes its foundations to Donald Black, who typologized its elementary forms and used his strategy of pure sociology to explain several aspects of its variation. Research and theory on conflict management has been further developed by Allan Horwitz, Calvin Morill, James Tucker, Mark Cooney, M.P. Baumgartner, Roberta Senechal de la Roche, Marian Borg, Ellis Godard, Scott Phillips, and Bradley Campbell.


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