Skip to main content

Ethnic Minorities and the Clash of Civilizations: A Quantitative Analysis of Huntington's Thesis


Samuel Huntington's ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis has sparked considerable debate. Huntington argues that post-Cold War conflicts will revolve primarily around civilizations. This article uses the Minorities at Risk dataset to provide a quantitative element to the civilizations debate, which, thus far, has been based mostly on anecdotal arguments. The article focuses on whether there has been a rise in both the quantity and intensity of ethnic conflicts between groups belonging to different civilizations since the end of the Cold War. Overall, the analysis reveals several problems with Huntington's argument. First, Huntington's classification of civilizations is difficult to operationalize. Secondly, civilizational conflicts constitute a minority of ethnic conflicts. Thirdly, conflicts between the West and both the Sinic/Confucian and Islamic civilizations, which Huntington predicts will be the major conflicts in the post-Cold War era, constitute a small minority of civilizational conflicts. Finally, there is no statistically significant evidence that the intensity of civilizational ethnic conflicts have risen relative to other types of ethnic conflicts since the end of the Cold War.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed