Ethnic Intolerance as a Product Rather than a Cause of War: Revisiting the State of the Art

Chapter
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS, volume 17)

Abstract

This chapter reviews findings obtained in a series of surveys dealing with ethno-national tolerance and exclusion and proposes an original conceptual integration. The surveys cover the time span from 1985 to 2006. The inclusion of results from before and after the war and the disintegration of Yugoslavia allows us to address the question of whether ethnic violence could have been predicted by pre-existing inter-ethnic animosities. Essentially, the answer is negative: intolerance and exclusion rose after the violence broke out and not before. If violent conflicts could not be predicted from attitudinal survey data, what is then the adequate theoretical framework in which the events in the former Yugoslavia should be interpreted? To answer this question, the author tries to reconstruct the social process that enabled the people to participate in the conflict regardless of their prior attitudes. He then discusses the process through which the ethnic violence changes the intergroup attitudes. In accordance with Blumer, he argues that (in)tolerance and exclusion are not isolate and stable individual attitudes but rather are based on a sense of group position. They are based on communication among group members and dominated by influential members of the group. In essence, it is a collective process. From that, it follows that it is not enough, and even misleading, to look for the explanation of prejudice in personality traits. Social practices and attitudes of intolerance are better conceived as a consequence of collective dynamics and, in the case of Yugoslavia, as a consequence of intergroup political violence led by war entrepreneurs.

Keywords

Intergroup relations Tolerance Exclusion Social attitudes Former Yugoslavia 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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