Realistic conflict theory, sometimes also known as realistic group conflict theory, concerns how different groups interact, come into conflict, form in-group solidarity, and exercise out-group cooperation under different levels of resource competition. This theory grew out of social psychology but has important applications to any study of how groups of people interact. Simply stated, realistic conflict theory asserts that when groups come into competition over scarce resources, hostility ensues, but that when a common goal exists, they can work together successfully. The scarcer the resources, the greater the competition; the resulting escalation in intergroup tension can lead directly to violent conflict. Whether these resources are material or symbolic, perceived or real, it is the reality or the perception that their appropriation by one group or ...

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