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The Cultural Dynamics of Ethnic Conflict

Chapter

Abstract

Traditionally, realist analyses of inter-state relations assign a very minor role to culture, arguing that states in conflict are motivated by concerns over concrete economic and strategic interests, and that state-level actors in inter-state conflicts share a common frame of reference. This chapter argues that while there are times when these long-held ideas are adequate to understand conflict, there are also situations where attention to cultural forces contributes a way to understand additional critical dynamics of international conflict. This is particularly true when we consider a matter of great concern in the post-Cold War period — ethnic conflict (Huntington, 1993).2 Culture affects international cooperation and ethnically rooted disputes in several distinct ways: it provides the context in which collaboration and conflict occur, helping explain why certain issues become significant to one or more states and shaping how conflicts are played out; it defines group differences and how groups compete for scarce resources and recognition; and it points to the deeply held fears and threats to identity which shape how political leaders phrase their demands and garner support from their own populations (Ross, 1997).

Keywords

Conflict Management International Conflict International Politics Cultural Dynamics Conflict Behaviour 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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