Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Religion and Conflict
James H. Mahon
Conflict and religion both are ubiquitous social processes, but at first they may appear to be autonomous, even contradictory, social processes: Conflict presumes division, distress, and discord; religion presumes cohesion, tranquility, and peace. However, conflict can also be integrative and religion can move actors to challenge and overturn the social and political order. Consequently, following Lewis Coser's observation that all social life “always involves harmony and conflict, attraction and compulsion, love and hatred,” analysis reveals a similar dichotomous affinity between conflict and religion, one that can be observed at all levels of the social structure: individuals, groups, social classes, societies, and civilizations. Recognizing that religious action has an individual as well as a social component, Sigmund Freud locates the very origins of religion in a primordial conflict between a human being's instinctual impulses and the necessary restraints each person must impose on his or her expression to gain membership in ...