The Role of Ethnic Nepotism vs. Economic Pragmatism in Inter-group Conflict: Data on the Yugoslavian Civil War*
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Neo-Darwinian concepts such as van den Berghe's ethnic nepotism infer that the origin of inter-group conflict resides primarily in ethnocentrism, defined as the extension of inclusive fitness to extra-familial interactions. Silverman, however, has proposed an alternative view, based on the presumption that natural selection favors pragmatism and plasticity in the formation of group alliances. Silverman's theory holds that the motives for inter-group oppression and warfare, including so-called ethnic cleansing movements, are economic, whereby out-group prejudices represent rationalizations rather than root causes. The present paper reviews Silverman's and Silverman and Case's evidence for this theory and provides further supporting data in terms of relationships between changes in economic conditions and ethnocentric attitudes during the years immediately preceding the recent Yugoslavian hostilities.
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