The roots of intense ethnic conflict may not in fact be ethnic : categories, communities and path dependence

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Title: The roots of intense ethnic conflict may not in fact be ethnic : categories, communities and path dependence
Authors: Ruane, Joseph
Todd, Jennifer
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Date: 2003
Abstract: This article criticizes two theoretical strategies of approach to ethnicity and ethnic conflict and proposes an alternative. One strategy emphasizes the intense solidarity generated by the ethnic or ethno-national bond and the resistance to change of the communities thus formed; it explains these phenomena in terms of the deep feeling surrounding the quasi-kin sense of ethnicity. The other strategy emphasizes the contingency, situatedness, variability, even superficiality of ethnic feeling, and shows how the emergent and unstable linkages which constitute ethnic ‘groups’ are formed from an interplay of ethnic categories and ethnic entrepreneurs within a given institutional and legal context. We adopt an alternative theoretical strategy, seeing ethnicity as a product of a multiplicity of determinants rather than a simple essence, and locating it as one factor among many, which, depending on the tightness or looseness of their interlinkages and mutual feedback mechanisms, may form a path dependent self-reproductive system generating communal opposition and ethnic conflict.
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. Institute for the Study of Social Change (Geary Institute)
Series/Report no.: ISSC Discussion Paper Series; WP 2003/17
Keywords: EthnicityEthnic conflictEthno-national bondCategoryCommunitySystemEmergent propertyPath dependence
Subject LCSH: Ethnicity
Ethnic conflict
Group identity
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Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Geary Institute Working Papers

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