Freedom and conflict: a replication of G.A. Hillery's comparative study

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The study was undertaken as a replication of an earlier work of G.A. Hillery. It was his contention that within an organization, perceived deprivation of freedom increased conflict. He also found that a communal organization tends to maximize freedom, whereas a formal organization does not.

The object of this study was to use the same procedures and methodology in an attempt to see if the author’s results were compatible with Hillery’s findings. Under the heading of formal organization, a total institution was chosen whereas under the heading of communal organization, an intentional community was chosen. The unit of analysis was each whole system. Two different methodological tools were used: participant-observation and a structured questionnaire.

In the final analysis, it was concluded that freedom can be maximized in a communal organization for all its members, whereas in a formal organization, freedom can be maximized for a certain segment of its members who are superordinates rather than subordinates. It was also found that an essential criterion for maximizing freedom in an organization is whether or not the members are there under their own volition.

With a particular social setting, therefore, perceived deprivation of freedom increases conflict. However, the relationship was found to be non-reversible, that is, members were violent that it is the attitude or position of those entering an organization that is essential toward a feeling of perceived deprivation of freedom.