The Dynamics of Ethnonationalist Contention
British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 305-331, 2010
48 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011
Date Written: December 8, 2008
The political expression of ethnopolitical communities spans three primary forms – electoral party politics, social movement protest behaviour, and violent rebellion. Previous literature, however, has studied these three strategies in isolation from one another. Using new data on the 17 autonomous communities of Spain, we test the ability of a prevailing model of ethnopolitical conflict (Gurr 1993a, 1993b, 2000) to account for the full range of regional nationalist political behaviour. This design effectively permits us to ask a central question: what incites nations to move from one type of contention to another? The findings confirm that, as the configuration of motivating factors in a community changes, organizations acting within that community do respond to the altered incentives and changing political context by moving up and down the ‘ladder of contention’. The findings thus suggest an under-explored ‘strategic dynamism’ in force in ethnonational communities. In capturing this dynamic movement, our framework allows for a better understanding of which features of a group’s environment tend to have an ‘escalatory’ impact on conflict (especially repression), and which others have a generally ‘ameliorative’ effect (e.g., economic transfers).
Keywords: nationalism, ethnic conflict, nationalist conflict, protest, rebellion, domestic conflict
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