Reducing the Negative Consequences of Identity: A Potential Role for the Nonprofit Sector in the Era of Globalization

22 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008

See all articles by Avner Ben-Ner

Avner Ben-Ner

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Claire A. Hill

University of Minnesota Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 27, 2008

Abstract

People of diverse backgrounds - most notably, diverse ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds - increasingly live in close proximity to one another. The trajectory is inexorable, and has many benefits. However, it also has had significant costs, including violent conflict between people with different identities, especially ethnic and religious identities. One important way to deal with this conflict starts with the recognition that people have multiple dimensions to their identities - in Amartya Sen's words, people's identities are "inescapably plural." A person's identities may change over time: various contexts, and stages of life, make different dimensions of identity more salient. Society can aim to strengthen alternative identity dimensions that would substitute for and weaken ethnic, religious, and other identity dimensions that may lead to conflict and violence, instead of complementing and strengthening them. We argue that the nonprofit sector is well situated to help in this endeavor. Nonprofit organizations may provide suitable circumstances for the encouragement of single alternative dimensions, such as musical and sports identities, or for the development of a set of complementary dimensions of identity that do not involve ethnicity and religion. Such organizations would engage in the provision of relational goods, thus playing on the nonprofit sector's relative advantage. The paper makes a concrete proposal for a community center model that could contribute to the reduction of negative effects of identity.

Suggested Citation

Ben-Ner, Avner and Hill, Claire Ariane, Reducing the Negative Consequences of Identity: A Potential Role for the Nonprofit Sector in the Era of Globalization (April 27, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1163662 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1163662

Avner Ben-Ner (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Claire Ariane Hill

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-624-6521 (Phone)

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