2009 Mameli Ethnopolitical Dynamics

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2009 Mameli Ethnopolitical Dynamics

  1. 1. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. Simona Mameli PhD St. University of Bern – Switzerland [email_address]
  2. 2. The Question <ul><li>Why Ethno-Politics is so attractive in contemporary world? </li></ul><ul><li>Two Perspectives for Answering: </li></ul><ul><li>Political–pragmatic approach : analyzes the reasons why ethnopolitics could serve as a useful mean for a social group to gain material outcomes, with a focus also on the external support ethnopolitics could obtain under specific circumstances </li></ul><ul><li>Social psychological approach : focuses on the dynamics making ethnicity and its mobilization an attractive shelter for individuals, especially when the external environment is characterized by socio-political uncertainty and economical crisis </li></ul>
  3. 3. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. <ul><li>Index </li></ul><ul><li>Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States </li></ul><ul><li>Conceptual Tools </li></ul><ul><li>The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community </li></ul><ul><li>The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics </li></ul><ul><li>Concluding Remarks </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework.
  5. 5. <ul><li>The term “ ethnopolitics ” refers to the mobilization of ethnicity to gain political outcomes , and, as such, implies the activity of ethnic-entrepreneurs able to activate the process </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ethnicity ” can be defined as one among the many identities a person can dress , besides those based on the profession, on the social position and so on </li></ul><ul><li>The ethnic identity stresses the common origin, the descent and the faith towards a common destiny as the basis for membership in ethnic groups . This sense of belonging is encouraged by a common language, a shared religion, a sense of homeland, common customs and shared historical narratives </li></ul><ul><li>When ethnicity becomes politically relevant it tends to mobilize group members for achieving political goals </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States ethnic identity
  6. 6. <ul><li>The concept of ethnicity developed in parallel with the very evolution and the development of the Nation States , at the beginning of Modern era, when the appeal to “ people ” as the legitimate repository of sovereignty significantly encouraged processes of self-identification into a well defined community , recognizable by the sharing of some common characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnicity started to play a crucial role in the process of determining a common sense of belonging, in the definition of allegiances and in the identification of a legitimate basis of power. </li></ul><ul><li>In this way sovereignty, people consensus and ethnicity, conjugated with a well defined territory where to be explicated, emerged as typical elements constituting the very essence of the modern State </li></ul><ul><li>The legitimacy of modern States, therefore, mostly derived from their ability to reflect the ethnic and political identity of their constituent nations </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States
  7. 7. <ul><li>However, the States created in Europe between the Nineteenth and the Twentieth Century did not reflect a pure concept of “Nation-States”, since they included within their borders also members of other nationalities </li></ul><ul><li>Indeed, demography and ethnicity never go side by side , and, consequently, State borders seldom correspond to those of a single ethnicity: the greatest number of States in the world are characterized by ethnic diversity </li></ul><ul><li>The contradiction between the multi-ethnic reality of almost all contemporary States , whose inner diversity can either derive from the past or can be the result of relatively recent immigration, and the still strong appeal to ethno-self-determination is at the basis of the contemporary ethno-political phenomena </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States
  8. 8. <ul><li>Certain historical and socio-political contexts , especially in modern societies and even more those in transition, characterized by asymmetrical correlations between ethnic groups and socio-economical and political distribution of power , constitute the ideal environment for the politicization of ethnicity </li></ul><ul><li>In those contexts, ethno-political entrepreneurs may lead the process in order either to maintain or to change the distribution of power among ethnic groups </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnopolitics means making people aware of their ethnic identity as a distinct group, underlining the relevance that politics may play for saving their values and their belongings </li></ul><ul><li>The final scope is the mobilization of this new ethno-aware group into the political arena to gain well defined political outcomes , either aimed at maintaining the status quo , if favorable to the group, or at changing it , in order to gain power, if the group experienced a deprivation or a negative discrimination from another ethnic group </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States
  9. 9. <ul><li>The process of ethno-mobilization , which represents the first evident explication of ethnopolitics, fosters the homogenization of societies according to their ethnic identity , and it plucks emotional, cultural and political strings of people involved </li></ul><ul><li>The intensity of the ethno-mobilization process may be intended as a direct function of the presence of a strong leadership , namely ethno-political entrepreneurs, religious or intellectual elites </li></ul><ul><li>Moreover, the power of ethno-mobilization is proportional to the availability of power, media and communication </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States
  10. 10. <ul><li>During the Cold War the scholar community generally tended to look at the ethno-political phenomena with relatively scarce attention, considering the attachment to ethnicity as a legacy of the past , still evident in some societies as a somewhat primordial feature, but as such destined to be cancelled by the processes of modernization and economic development </li></ul><ul><li>However, the globalization of communication, the economic development and the modernization processes did not managed to delete the power of ethnicity, but even strengthened the phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>Indeed, while the contemporary chaotic world makes individuals more inclined to take shelter under the solidarity of a smaller and familiar community like the ethnic group , against the risks of atomization and solitude, the very process of modernization has contributed to strengthening the self-conscience of ethnic groups and their political scopes at least in two different ways : </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States
  11. 11. <ul><li>First, because the globalization and the modernization processes have made the dimensions of the State irrelevant for its sustainability : as such, also small ethnic groups , gathered into a well defined region, could claim a statehood as an extreme ratio for solving a perceived negative discrimination operated by the State they belong to </li></ul><ul><li>And secondly, ethno-political instances have gained new lymph through their international networking aimed at establishing transversal alliances with other actors within the international community, being them States or other ethnic groups with similar purposes </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 1. Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity as the Basis of Legitimization of Modern States
  12. 12. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. <ul><li>2. Conceptual Tools </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Ethnic group = a community of people whose members share, besides a series of cultural features, from language to religion, also myths of common descent, relations of kinship, historical memories, common enemies, myths of past glories and traumas, territorial association and a sense of solidarity . Individuals form ethnic groups to answer their needs for identity and security </li></ul><ul><li>Nation = a group of people who feel to be bound together by historical and cultural links, by common ancestors and, therefore, as the ethnic group, the nation possesses both objective features (territory, language, religion) and subjective ones (the consciousness of their nationality) </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 2. Conceptual Tools
  14. 14. <ul><li>Nationalism= political ideology linked with the concept of nation; can be defined as a principle of political legitimacy which asks for a coincidence between political unity and national unity </li></ul><ul><li>We could identify two main kinds of nationalisms: </li></ul><ul><li>Civic nationalism= patriotism towards an existing State and its institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Ethno-nationalism = loyalty towards the nation, namely to the ethnic group which is claiming for a territorial space, being it a State or a political/territorial autonomy within the State. </li></ul><ul><li>The ethno-nationalism naturally fosters ethno-politics : politicization, mobilization and organization of ethnic loyalties for gaining or maintaining control of the political and economical power. The political competition, as a consequence, may become more and more structured along ethnic lines </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 2. Conceptual Tools
  15. 15. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. <ul><li>3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Ethnicity, in order to be mobilized, requires the social community to own some particular characteristics, namely common physical features, language, religion, culture, tradition . </li></ul><ul><li>While all these features can be defined “primordial”, in the sense that they have been acquired by individuals since birth or within their process of socialization from childhood, but in any case before the person has developed any form of self-conscience, their sole presence is never enough to trigger ethno-mobilization </li></ul><ul><li>According to constructivism and instrumentalism approaches, ethno-mobilization needs the presence of social actors, the ethno-political entrepreneurs, to start the process </li></ul><ul><li>the environmental context may activate , during period of competition, social crisis or conflict, the initiative of the ethno-entrepreneurs aimed at convincing their ethnic fellows that their positive revenge and their common future have to be seen in ethnical terms , neither within a “social class” perspective or as single individuals </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  17. 17. <ul><li>Ethno-political entrepreneurs work for convincing their ethnic fellows that their personal aspirations can be realized only within the ethnic community, and that betraying the ethnic group would signify not only the renunciation of their personal ambitions, but also to undermine the values and the culture the group refers to, up to threatening their own survival </li></ul><ul><li>Once the ethno-mobilization has started, the ethnic community becomes more and more oriented towards a political scope </li></ul><ul><li>The process is almost irreversible : once self-conscience has been acquired, the ethnicity cannot be removed so easily (counting also on social-psychological factors) </li></ul><ul><li>After its activation, ethnopolitics may become an element of destabilization within the internal politics of a State , at least because it claims for answers to its quests. </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  18. 18. <ul><li>Its destabilizing potential is a direct function of the level of radicalism of both the ethno-political struggle (and its requests) and the reactions of the counter-actors , being them the State or other ethnic groups in the context of a multi-ethnic Country </li></ul><ul><li>The aims of ethnopolitics may be very diverse , depending on several contingent factors, such as the social, political and economical conjuncture, the historical relationship between State and ethnic group, the presence of other ethnic communities within the State, the memory of the past and so on </li></ul><ul><li>In any case, the ethno-leadership stresses the existence of an external threat against the ethno-national community able to paste people around a common political goal exploiting socio-psychological factors </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  19. 19. <ul><li>If the ethnic group perceives to be exploited and unfairly subdued under the current political situation, ethnopolitics may aim at gaining some revenge (ex: 80’s movement against Apartheid in South Africa, led by Nelson Mandela) </li></ul><ul><li>If radicalism prevails, the mobilization of ethnicity may also lead to revolution and the attempt to seize the State power against the current leadership , normally belonging to an adversary ethnic group, in order to invert the hierarchy of (ethnic) power, also through violence (ex: civil war between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda) </li></ul><ul><li>Another scope, whether the community is not geographically scattered, could be the quest for a stronger autonomy within the State, or, more radically, the attempt to secede in order to establish a new “Nation State” where the ethno-political ambitions of the mobilized group may find complete expression (ex: dissolution of Former Yugoslavia, through the secessions of its Republics) </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  20. 20. <ul><li>The radicalism of the quest derives from an utilitarian calculation “costs versus benefits” the ethno-political leaders necessarily do before acting </li></ul><ul><li>When the politicization of ethnicity leads to the claim for external self-determination of a (ethnic) people, namely secession from the State, it is always supported by the ethnic justification . Indeed, external self-determination backed by purely economical or administrative reasons is, by itself, a very weak argumentation at international level </li></ul><ul><li>If the mobilized group does not belong to the ethno-group already in power, the (host) State and its leaders dispose of a broad set of possible answers to the threat posed by the politicization of the ethnicity of another group , depending (also in this case) on the radicalism of the quests made by the ethnically-mobilized group, the contingent factors and the calculation made by the State on utilitarian criteria. The answers may range from the concession of autonomy or privileges, from one side, to the engagement into a civil (ethnic) war, at the other end of the spectrum. </li></ul><ul><li>In other cases the ethno-political entrepreneurs starting the ethno-mobilization could be the same leading elites , who do not want to loose power or who perceive a threat could come from opposing groups </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  21. 21. <ul><li>The most destabilizing form ethnopolitics may assume , both from the perspectives of internal and international politics , is represented by the attempt of an ethnic group not in power to de-legitimize the State claiming for secession </li></ul><ul><li>Indeed, given the radicalism of the quest, the counter-answer from the host State has a strong potential to be at the same level </li></ul><ul><li>A violent ethnic conflict may emerge and sweep away the Country into the civil war, spreading destabilization also to the neighboring States and therefore interesting the International Community </li></ul><ul><li>The internationalization of ethno-politics , with the intervention of third parties condemning or backing the ethno-secessionists, may result in a possible destabilization of international relations (ex: recent developments in Kosovo and in the Caucasus in 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>The chronic ambivalence of the international behavior of States towards ethnopolitics, namely between interference or prudence, derives from the existing contradiction between internationally accepted norms ( sovereignty and non intervention vs self-determination of people ) but also from the potential conflict between options for action , deriving from an utilitarian reasoning in terms of costs and benefits of a possible intervention </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  22. 22. <ul><li>Political approach: Conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>from a political perspective , the attractiveness of ethnopolitics in contemporary world may be understood as deriving from its power of constituting, historically, a crucial factor for legitimating the (nation) States </li></ul><ul><li>The appeal to emotions makes the politicization of ethnicity , under certain circumstances, a powerful instrument of cohesion for social groups and, as a consequence, of their capability to obtain their political goals . Ethno-political entrepreneurs are well aware of that power , and consequently they make use of strategic appeals to mobilize the ethnic belonging of people to get their scopes. </li></ul><ul><li>From a more global perspective, ethnopolitics may seem to affect the international relations as well, because of its potential to destabilize States and creating transversal alliances among ethno-national actors </li></ul><ul><li>States may fear the destabilizing effect that ethnopolitics may exert on their internal politics, or they may instrumentally use ethnopolitics to take advantage of internal troubles of another State, as well. The power of ethnicity, therefore, could be strategically used by third actors to serve their political, geopolitical, economical and strategic scopes. </li></ul><ul><li>As a consequence, the power of ethnopolitics has to be acknowledged and taken into due consideration at both national and international level </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 3. The Political Approach to Ethnopolitics: Ethnicity, State and the International Community
  23. 23. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. <ul><li>4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>From a social psychological point of view, in order to understand the power of ethnicity, it could be helpful to refer to the most relevant literature about groups and inter-group conflict </li></ul><ul><li>The belonging to a group serves many important functions ; particularly, it helps the consolidation of a positive self-esteem of the individual belonging to it . This implies a positive attitude towards the in-group, namely a f avoritism towards it, that is at the basis of the social identity of human beings </li></ul><ul><li>The interpretation of the social world in different categories is relevant, as well, in order to understand the power of ethno-mobilization. Categorization is instrumental for both adaptive and motivational functions: </li></ul><ul><li>adaptive function : the number of information coming from the external world may be overwhelming for the human brain without channeling them into simplifying categories; </li></ul><ul><li>motivational scopes : being the individual’s self-esteem a function of the image of the in-group, categorization helps the comparisons with others and the assignment of more positive features to the in-group with respect to out-groups the individual does not feel to belong to </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics
  25. 25. <ul><li>Stereotyping , as a natural function of the human brain, serves equal scopes as the categorization. A stereotype can be defined as a cognitive structure which contains the knowledge, the beliefs and the expectative, being them positive or negative ones, owned by an individual in reference with a certain human group . This cognitive structure is acquired both by personal experience and throughout the natural process of social learning </li></ul><ul><li>The personal experience may contribute to the construction of erroneous stereotypes about a group because of many psychological errors that may intervene in the process: </li></ul><ul><li>the “ fundamental error of attribution ”, which makes infer personal attributes to an individual from a specific behavior observed; </li></ul><ul><li>the “ illusory correlation ”, which makes the human brain connect two variables not really linked; </li></ul><ul><li>and affective factors : the less the contact between groups, the stronger the anxiety and the negative feelings the opportunities of direct approaches may generate </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics
  26. 26. <ul><li>Besides personal experience, the acquisition of stereotypes may derive also from social learning processes , throughout which individuals interiorize false images of the out-group deriving from parents, relatives, media and society in general. </li></ul><ul><li>A direct effect of stereotyping function is the prejudice , which can be defined as a negative attitude directed towards a specific social group or one of its members . While the stereotype is a cognitive frame, characterized by specific beliefs, the prejudice is a concrete attitude characterized by beliefs, as well, but also by affective sensations, more intense emotions and a strong trend to act </li></ul><ul><li>The literature includes several explanations for the genesis of prejudice ( authoritarian personality theory; r ealistic conflict theory; “ relative deprivation ” approach; Social Identity Theory ) </li></ul><ul><li>Social psychology considers negative stereotypes and prejudices at the basis of inter-group conflict </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics
  27. 27. <ul><li>The power of ethnopolitics , and therefore the process of mobilization of ethnicity, may be better understood within a social-psychological framework </li></ul><ul><li>Human beings are social animals : their unit of survival may be considered the group , not the individual, since their capability of survival is strongly linked with the existence of an organized group around them </li></ul><ul><li>The need for individuals to take shelter under the solidarity of the in-group , especially during periods of uncertainty due to social, political or economical crisis , may create the ideal conditions for ethno-political entrepreneurs to foster the power of ethnic belonging </li></ul><ul><li>Categorization processes , in this sense, may help the cohesion of the in-group: threats to group’s identity are perceived as undermining the survival of its members, and therefore their emotional power may easily change into politicization </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics
  28. 28. <ul><li>Normally the ethno-political entrepreneurs emerge as defenders of the interests of the in-group within an ideal “relative deprivation” environment (an out-group threatening the in-group) </li></ul><ul><li>Threats are always depicted as coming from outside : the recognition of the out-group as the enemy may perfectly serve this scope </li></ul><ul><li>Negative stereotypes and prejudices against the out-group strengthen the social cohesion of the in-group and the positive self-esteem of individuals belonging to it </li></ul><ul><li>The deeper the crisis a society faces, the stronger the possibility that the mobilization of ethnicity may lead to inter-group conflict </li></ul><ul><li>In situational contexts where traditional points of reference - which used to make people defining themselves as a collectivity - enter into crisis , people’s identity becomes deeply disturbed and looks for recovering </li></ul><ul><li>When the old points of reference seem to break up and the threats become more and more distressing and alarming, ethno-political entrepreneurs tend to mobilize emotions of people in order to answer to the “collective trauma” people have been facing </li></ul>Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics
  29. 29. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>The ethno-political entrepreneurs present themselves as the social actors who will manage to lead the group out of the crisis. They: </li></ul><ul><li>normally are very able to speak to the mass </li></ul><ul><li>answer to a collective imagery in crisis with new images, which re-build the former on new bases </li></ul><ul><li>suggest to people where the threats comes from ( external enemy ) </li></ul><ul><li>make people transforming the collective distress , still ethereal and unseizable, into a feeling of intense fear against a perceived enemy , tracing a well defined object, a scapegoat, where coagulating distress and anxiety </li></ul><ul><li>Depicting this enemy as the cause of the crisis can make the traumatized collectivity develop a wish to destroy the cause of fear ( Imagery of Death ) </li></ul><ul><li>Reconstructing and enlivening the “We” throughout the destruction of the “They ( Imagery of Omnipotence ) </li></ul>
  30. 30. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>Ethno-leaders , by facing the collective trauma through suggesting to people where the threats comes from, trigger a process which naturally induces the spreading of negative feelings against the out-group , the development of an “enemy image” and the acquisition of negative prejudices linked with it </li></ul><ul><li>Enemy images are self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing : making the in-group more inclined to behave more aggressively towards the out-group, the hostile response of the latter will work like a confirmation of the negative image of the out-group that the in-group had developed, claiming for closing the ranks and behave even more aggressively, if possible </li></ul><ul><li>Under those psychological premises, the mobilization of ethnicity may easily become a powerful destabilizing factor threatening the relations between different ethnic communities within a State . Indeed, ethno-mobilization triggers a mechanism of reciprocity under which the (ethno) out-group may mobilize as well and develop, at its turn, an opposite enemy image based on the threat posed against it </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, enemy images tend to develop, between conflicting groups, mirroring each other: each side tend to attribute the same virtues and values for itself, and the same vices and evilness to the other </li></ul>
  31. 31. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>The parallel development of enemy images disrupts inter-group communication , reducing therefore the chances of finding out areas of common interest and possible agreement , and paving the way for an escalation of the inter-group conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Under undemocratic conditions , namely within societies where individuals are subjected to forms of severe education and control both within the family and the political regime, the development of enemy images is more likely to escalate up to become an open conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Authoritarian personalities , reacting to the collapse of the system of value they used to refer to, look for a paternalistic figure to whom commit their selves : God, a messiah, a political leader who stands as a guardian for their security </li></ul><ul><li>They lend their selves to the most extreme forms of manipulation , especially those aimed at homogenizing the in-group and at showing aggressiveness towards outsiders </li></ul>
  32. 32. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>The will of destruction related to the enemy image can be translated into the real world , namely moving from fantasy to concrete action, depending on the power of attractiveness that the social actors can foster through their discourse , that has to be understandable, believable and coherent, and whose nature has to contain the distress of individuals </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, the power of ethnopolitics depends on the ideology the ethno-national leaders may use </li></ul><ul><li>Ideology </li></ul><ul><li>It is an understandable, believable and coherent discourse </li></ul><ul><li>It is based on rational and irrational arguments at the same time, built against the malefactor “They” </li></ul><ul><li>its nature can contain the distress of individuals </li></ul><ul><li>It makes use of concepts like identity , purity , security </li></ul>
  33. 33. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>a) Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Group identity constructed by underlining what makes “us” different from “them” </li></ul><ul><li>Appeals to memories of a past made of injustice which the “We” suffered because of the malefic “Them” </li></ul><ul><li>Past injustices evoked in order to sediment and strengthen a feeling of grudge: a sense of resentment accompanied by a feeling of impotence, making people always chewing over what they had to get through (at the core of ethnic conflicts in Former Yugoslavia) </li></ul>
  34. 34. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>b) Purity </li></ul><ul><li>hardens the features of the collective identity and makes it precipitate with stronger probabilities towards mass violence: defining ourselves “pure” means necessarily to define the others as “impure” </li></ul><ul><li>asks for a need for cleansing the community against the “Other”, perceived as dirty garbage, insects etc </li></ul><ul><li>reminds also a sacred imagery , legitimating cleansing </li></ul><ul><li>calls for defending the pureness of the civilization against the corruption of the modern (return to the past: peasants as true depository of wisdom and defenders of traditions and of the eternal Soul of the “We/nation”; exit from the time: Serbian nationalism) </li></ul><ul><li>The research for pureness concerns also, and first of all, the possibility of defection within the in-group </li></ul><ul><li>A constant psychosis affecting ethno-nationalism ideologies is also the possibility of being challenged internally , from the in-group </li></ul><ul><li>They tend to develop sophisticated complot theories which associate, within a diabolic plan, internal enemies to external ones </li></ul><ul><li>The ethno-nationalist ideology , before attacking the external Enemy, always forage around the in-group for possible traitors , and seeks to create internal homogeneity (using also violence) </li></ul>
  35. 35. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>c) Security </li></ul><ul><li>awakening of dolorous memories </li></ul><ul><li>“ they” responsible , throughout history, for the pain suffered by this lamenting “Us/Nation” </li></ul><ul><li>“ they” depicted as threats also in the present </li></ul><ul><li>transformation of distress into fear </li></ul><ul><li>proliferation of hatred and constant desire to take vengeance for the past and for undergone injustices </li></ul>
  36. 36. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>When Ethno-Politics May Succeed? </li></ul><ul><li>the more the social actors fostering ethno-nationalist ideology CAN control political power and dispose of material tools (also control over media) </li></ul><ul><li>They can either </li></ul><ul><li>believe at their discourses paranoid personalities : diffidence, psychic rigidity, hypertrophy of the “I”, altered process of ideation; this psychological structure affects a collectivity as a generalized social pathology using, as a vector of infection a paranoid discourse which links the suffering “We” to the faults of that malefic “They” (ideology) </li></ul><ul><li>do not believe at their discourses opportunists : ride the tiger of nationalism to get personal pay-offs </li></ul>
  37. 37. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>The appeal to close the ranks against the enemy cannot force all the society to adhere to it, and never has to be understood in monolithic terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ethno-mobilization has normally behind a limited number of fanatics who manage to drag a whole Country behind them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>if they manage to control the political power there will be a concrete risk, for possible opponents, to be forced to silence ( quest for internal purity ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The “delirious rationality” of the ethno-nationalist ideology can exert a strong power of attraction if the society is experiencing a deep crisis, especially when it faces a collapse of a system of values within a more general economical crisis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the worst scenarios, the strong strain of the imagery of fear created and spread by this delirious rationality may work both as a detonator and as a fuel for collective action, which could result in collective violence against the demonized Enemy in a logic of “Destroying the Other for saving the We” (point of no return) </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 4. The Social-Psychological Approach: Explaining the Power of Ethnopolitics <ul><li>Social-psychological approach: Conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>The attractiveness of the ethnicity and the consequent mobilization of social group around the ethnic belonging for gaining and legitimating political scopes exerts a great power because of the psychological mechanisms and the emotions it is able to activate, at the individual level amd at the group level, supporting therefore more pragmatic scopes of the ethno-political leadership </li></ul><ul><li>In the worst cases, ethno-politics may foster inter-group antagonism up to ethnic conflict </li></ul>
  39. 39. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. <ul><li>5. Concluding Remarks </li></ul>
  40. 40. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. 5. Concluding Remarks <ul><li>The power of ethnopolitics derives: </li></ul><ul><li>to a great extent from the socio-psychological mechanisms and emotions it is able to stir up , which remind basic individual needs such as the fundamental necessity for human beings to live within socially organized groups </li></ul><ul><li>from the stronger influence it may exert on people than the old-fashion and less psychologically attractive “class struggle”. Consequently, ethno-political entrepreneurs may use the mobilization of ethnicity to gain political scopes with a stronger probability of gaining success, being ethno-national support considered crucial for legitimating or de-legitimating States and political projects </li></ul><ul><li>As a final remark, it has to be underlined that where ethno-politics succeeded and got to create, dismember ad re-create States based on ethnic criteria , a fundamental role has been played by third parties within the International Community </li></ul>
  41. 41. Understanding the New Ethno-Political Dynamics. A Conceptual Framework. <ul><li>THANK YOU FOR ATTENTION! </li></ul>Zzzzzz.....

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