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The Roots of Intense Ethnic Conflict may not in fact be Ethnic: Categories, Communities and Path Dependence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2005

JOSEPH RUANE
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland [j.ruane@ucc.ie]
JENNIFER TODD
Affiliation:
Department of Politics, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland [Jennifer.todd@ucd.ie]
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Abstract

This article criticizes two theoretical approaches to ethnicity and ethnic conflict. One emphasizes the intense solidarity generated by the ethnic bond and explains this in terms of a deep, quasi-kin feeling. The other emphasizes the contingency and situatedness of ethnic feeling and the fluctuating character of ethnic “groupness”. We adopt an alternative strategy, locating ethnicity as one factor among many, which may form a path-dependent self-reproductive system generating communal opposition and ethnic conflict.

Deux approches théoriques de l'ethnicité et du conflit ethnique sont ici citiquées. L'une met l'accent sur l'intense solidarité engendrée par le lien ethnique considéré comme un lien affectif profond et quasi falmilial; l'autre, tout au contraire, souligne la contingence situationnelle du sentiment ethnique et le caractère incertain du “ groupisme ” ethnique. La perspective choisie est de voir l'ethnicité comme l'un des facteurs, nombreux, dont le croisement formera un système auto-reproductif engendrant opposition communautaire et conflit ethnique.

Zwei theoretische Ansätze des Ethnischen und des ethnischen Konflikts werden hier kritisch beleuchtet. Der erste betont die starke Solidaritätsbewegung, die durch den ethnischen Bezug entsteht, mit tiefen zwischen-menschlichen, fast familiären Beziehungen. Der andere, im Gegenteil, unterstreicht das situationsbezogene Auftreten des ethnischen Gefühls und den ungewissen Ausgang einer ethnischen Gruppenwirkung. Das Ethnische wird hier als einer der zahlreichen Faktoren betrachtet, deren Kreuzung zu einem sich selbst reproduzierbaren System von gemeinschaftlicher Abwehrhaltung une etnischem Konflikt führen wird.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2004 Archives Européennes de Sociology

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Footnotes

J. Todd acknowledges the research context provided at the Institute for the study of social change, University College Dublin.
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