Re: Types of conflict in cohousing -- did I miss any?
From: Tom Smyth (
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2016 10:27:15 -0800 (PST)
Mary thanks for your work on list. I think it's super intriguing. Some
thoughts about conflict:

> dissension, objection, protesting, doubt, withholding, pouting or even the
> occasional prima donna temper tantrum.

Dictionary definitions aside, in the circles in which I move, nearly all of
these (except perhaps doubt) can be considered "conflict".

> If you look at the definition of conflict in Merriam-Webster, you’ll see
> words like war, battle, struggle for power, aggression, antagonism, anger,
> dramatic action.

I don't see the purpose in attempting to differentiate between different
qualitative levels of conflict. "Dissension" could be easily seen as a
"struggle for power". A "temper tantrum" can certainly be perceived as
"aggression". "Protesting" can often be "dramatic". Certainly it is
worthwhile differentiating violent conflict. I think most on this list
would agree violent conflict is not healthy. But "aggression" vs. "pouting"
seems like a false dichotomy to me. The results of both can be equally

Furthermore, the softer kinds of conflict you list tend to be the
beginnings of the harder ones (e.g. war) if they are not healthily dealt

If you look in the OED, the first group of definitions has to do with
violent conflict, and the second set says 'transf. fig.', meaning a
transferred sense and figurative usage. One of the examples there (from
1883) is "The recurring conflicts between Church and State." Another
definition in the same section says "The clashing or variance of opposed
principles, statements, arguments, etc.". This is the sense I think folks
are using when they say conflict can be healthy.

Anyway in my experience the notion of "healthy conflict" is rather
ubiquitous in cohousing and leftist circles. I don't think you will get
very far starting from the premise that conflict cannot possibly be healthy.

Tom Smyth

Worker-Owner, Sassafras Tech Collective
Specializing in innovative, usable tech for social change *·* @sassafrastech

Resident, Touchstone Cohousing

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