Writers seeking to find ways the protagonist (P) faces a conflict can use the 1992 movie Thunderheart as an example of viewing factions around the P.
Any conflict focuses on how P copes with barriers that face P’s goals. Yet those barriers might arise from different factions of social or political forces.
The movie’s P, FBI Special Agent Raymond Levoi, thinks his goal moves him to solve the murder of a local Native resident. Yet he discovers his goal requires him to sort out the groups in play. That is a problem because they are numerous.
His goal faces more understanding of his Lacoka background, a link he has denied. Those forces become personified by: Walter Crow Horse, tribal cop; Milton, the head of the tribal council milita; and Grandpa, a shaman type of wise man.
Each person can be seen through the lens of a faction or cultural mindset. Walter Crow Horse seeks to blend the wisdom of nature from the past with today’s world. That faction turns activist when it sees rights being lost to a community. Milton, despite being Native, has turned his back on nature and the past. His goal seeks to further a status in White society with wealth and power. Grandpa yearns for the days of the past and while he enjoys watching TV, he listens to the wind and the owl for messages of how to proceed in life. His faction keeps the old paths alive with stories and respect for the hills and valleys.
For any story, a conflict exists. To develop that tension, find the ideas in play with the story. Then ask, “who believes in one approach instead of another?” Find a character to represent those ideas. Usually those characters come from one faction or another. Those factions will be lined up to either support or oppose P’s goals. Characters are not stereotypes. But they exist within a cultural mindset. However, each character surrounds himself with several cultural mindsets and can vary his approach depending on the influence of one over others.
Factions are the key. Levoi wheres the shades of the FBI. But evolves when he sees mystical owls.