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

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


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.


Intergroup relations Tolerance Exclusion Social attitudes Former Yugoslavia 


  1. Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  2. Banac, I. (1984). The national question in Yugoslavia: Origins, history, politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bauman, E. (1992). Factors influencing ethnic attitudes in South African work situations. Journal of Social Psychology, 132, 641–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bilandzic, D. (1985). Historija socijalisticke federativne republike Jugoslavije. Glavni procesi 1918–1985. Zagreb: Skolska knjiga.Google Scholar
  5. Bilandzic, D. (1999). Hrvatska moderna povijest. Zagreb: Golden Marketing.Google Scholar
  6. Blalock, H. (1967). Toward a theory of minority-group relations. New York: Capricorn Books.Google Scholar
  7. Brodburn, N. M, Sendman, S., & Gockel, G. L. (1971). Side by side. Chicago: Quadrangle.Google Scholar
  8. Cooper, R. Jr. (1993) Review of the Balkan’s ghosts. Slavic Review, 52(Fall), 592–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dixon J. C. (2006). The ties that bind and those that don’t: Toward reconciling group threat and contact theories of prejudice. Social Forces, 4(84), 2179–2204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Djilas, A. (1993). Razgovori za Jugoslaviju. Zagreb: Prometej.Google Scholar
  11. Forbes, D. E. (1997). Ethnic conflict. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Ford W. S. (1973). Interracial public housing in border city. Another look at the contact hypothesis. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 1426–1447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geertz, C. (1964). Ideology as a cultural system. In D. E. Aptner (Eds.), Ideology and discontent. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gore, A. (1995). Larry King Live. CNN, June 5.Google Scholar
  15. Hodson, R., & Sekulic, D., & Massey, G. (1994). National tolerance in the former Yugoslavia. American Journal of Sociology, 99(6), 1534–1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kaplan, R. (1993). Balkan ghosts: A journey through history. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kollin, R., & Denny, S. W. (1982). The social ecology of ethnic attitudes in Canada. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 14, 97–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lee, A. M., & Humphrey, N. D. (1943). Race riot. New York: Dryden.Google Scholar
  19. Malcolm, N. (1994). Bosnia. A short history. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Massey, G., Hodson, R., & Sekulic, D. (1999). Ethnic enclaves and intolerance. The case of Yugoslavia. Social Forces, 2(78), 669–691.Google Scholar
  21. McIntosh, M. E., McIver, M. A., Abele, D. G., & Nolle, D. B. (1995). Minority rights and majority rule: Ethnic tolerance in Romania and Bulgaria. Social Forces, 73(3), 939–968.Google Scholar
  22. Mitchell, J. S. (1968). Epilogue to a referendum. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 3, 9–12.Google Scholar
  23. Olszak, S. (1992). The dynamics of ethnic competition and conflict. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Olszak, S., Shanahan, S., & West, E. (1994). School desegregation, interracial exposure, and antibusing activity in contemporary urban America. American Journal of Sociology, 100, 196–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Park, R. E. (1914). Racial assimilation in secondary groups. American Journal of Sociology, 19, 606–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pettigrew, T. (1971) Racially separate or together? New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  27. Pettigrew, T. F., & Meertens, R. W. (1995). Subtle and blatant prejudice in Western Europe. European Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Powers D. A., & Ellison, C. G. (1995). Interracial contact and Black racial attitudes: The contact hypothesis and selectivity bias. Social Forces, 74(1), 205–226.Google Scholar
  29. Quillian, L. (1995). Prejudice as a response to perceived group threat: Population composition and anti-immigrant racial prejudice. American Sociological Review, 60, 586–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ramet, S. P. (2002). Balkan Babel: The disintegration of Yugoslavia from the death of Tito to the fall of Milosevic (4th ed.). Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ramet, S. P. (2004). For a charm of powerful trouble like a hell-broth boil and buble: Theories about the roots of the Yugoslav troubles. Nationalities Papers, 32(4), 731–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ramet, S. P. (2005). Thinking about Yugoslavia. Scholarly debates about the Yugoslav breakups and the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ramet, S. P. (2006). The three Yugoslavia’s state building and Legitimation 1918–2005. Washington D.C./Bloomington: Wilson Centre Press and Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Ray, J. S. (1983). Racial attitudes and the contact hypothesis. Journal of Social Psychology, 119, 3–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sekulic, D., et al. (2004). Zagreb: Sukobi i tolerancija. Zagreb: Jesenski i Turk.Google Scholar
  36. Sekulic, D., Massey, G., & Hodson, R. (2006). Ethnic intolerance and ethnic conflict in the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 29(5), 797–827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Semyonov, M., Gorodziesky, A., & Raiman, R. (2006). The rise of anti-foreigner sentiment in European societies 1988–2000. American Sociological Review, 71, 426–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Semyonov, M., Raijman, R., & Gorodziesky, A. (2008). Foreigner’s impact on European societies. Public views and perceptions in a cross-national comparative perspective. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 49(1), 5–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Simkus, A., & Listhaug, O. (2008). Religiosity and ethnic exclusionist attitudes in the Western Balkans: Changes among specific groups 1990–2004. Paper presented at the Budapest Conference of the International Institute for Sociology (July).Google Scholar
  40. Thompson, M. (1999). Forging war. The media in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Luton: University of Luton Press.Google Scholar
  41. Voirst, M. (1991 March 18). The Yugoslav idea. New Yorker, 67, 58–79.Google Scholar
  42. Watson, G. (1947). Action for unity. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  43. West, R. (1964). Black lamb and grey falcon: A journey through Yugoslavia. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  44. Williams, R. (1947). Reduction of intergroup tension. New York: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
  45. Wilson, T. (1996). Prejudice reduction or self-selection? A test of contact hypothesis. Sociological Spectrum, 16, 43–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

Personalised recommendations