The Causes of Conflict

  • Gerry O’ReillyEmail author
Part of the Key Challenges in Geography book series (KCHGE)


While there is a myriad of causes for conflict, here two broad categories are used: (i) Material—essentially economic resources consisting of territory, fertile land, water, oil and gas, and all types of natural and human assets. In short, they are tangible in contrast to ideas—constructs of the mind or spirit. (ii) Existential reasons relate to affirming one’s existence, feeling a sense of one’s own time and space—philosophical concepts and social constructions that attempt to give life a purpose or meaning that has been a major motor in the development of societies and civilizations, but often causing conflict. Utopian ideals have contributed to religions and nationalisms, but when pushed to extremes have fostered totalitarianism and dystopias, and when they clash major conflicts can ensue as witnessed in the Syrian Civil War. Democracy itself is a Utopian ideal, a work in progress as witnessed on global scales with UN agencies, and at much smaller levels with regional and local planning within and between states.


Competition Resources Ideas Utopia Dystopia Social constructs Projects 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History and Geography, St. Patrick’s CampusDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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