Counting the causes and dynamics of ethnoreligious violence

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Abstract

This study examines the quantitative literature on religion and conflict in order to build a comprehensive model of religion and ethnic conflict. The results of this examination show that while religion is not the primary cause of ethnic conflict, it does influence ethnic conflict in multiple and complex ways. In fact, religious factors are involved in most ethnic conflicts where the groups involved belong to different religions. Also, the mere fact that the groups involved belong to different religions creates different conflict dynamics than in conflicts where the groups involved belong to the same religion. Religious factors that influence ethnic conflicts include religious discrimination, grievances over religious issues, whether religious issues are important in a conflict relative to other issues, religious institutions, religious legitimacy and demands for more religious rights and privileges. In addition religion is shown to influence the decision by governments to intervene in ethnic conflicts. Finally, while religion influences ethnic conflicts, it appears that Samuel Huntington's concept of civilisations does not. As these findings are based on quantitative studies of ethnoreligious conflict during the early 1990s, they are based not upon theoretical speculation but, rather, upon empirical evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligious Fundamentalism and Political Extremism
PublisherFrank Cass
Pages122-148
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)0203010965, 9780203010969
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2004

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