Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Modernization, Social Identity, and Ethnic Conflict

Yuki, Kazuhiro (2016): Modernization, Social Identity, and Ethnic Conflict.

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Empirical evidence suggests that ethnic divisions in a society leads to negative outcomes in civil conflict and economic development, among others. It is often argued that the lack of shared social identity, that is, the dominance of subnational (particularly, ethnic) identities over national identity, lies behind the negative outcomes. If shared national identity is important, how can it be realized? Some stress the effectiveness of "nation-building" policies in strengthening national identity. Meanwhile, there exist conflicting theses on effects of the modernization of a society on national identity in political science, the classic thesis (such as Deutsch, Gellner, Weber) arguing positive effects and the competing thesis (such as Melson and Wolpe, Bates) arguing negative effects. Which thesis is more relevant under what conditions? How does modernization affect identity, conflict, and development? How do policies such as "nation-building" policies affect the outcomes?

In order to examine these questions theoretically, this paper develops a model of social identity, ethnic conflict, and development. In the model, individuals choose a sector to work (between the modern sector and a traditional sector), social identity (between ethnic identity and national identity), and contributions to ethnic conflict. Thus, the degree of modernization (and output), identity, and conflict interact with each other.

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