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Social identity, cross-cutting cleavages, and explaining the breakdown of interethnic cooperation


  • Steven Lloyd Wilson


This article expands upon Fearon and Laitin’s seminal Explaining Interethnic Cooperation , a paper that formalized an explanation for how ethnic groups achieve cooperation through the use of in-group policing strategies that yield a more stable and substantively convincing equilibrium than tit-for-tat (spiral) reprisals by each side. This article expands the Fearon and Laitin framework in two ways. First, it generalizes their basic framework of two equally sized groups to an arbitrary number of arbitrarily sized groups. Second, the article expands the framework to allow for multiple interacting dimensions of identity. The paper uses this generalized framework to endogenize social identity into the formal model using a global games approach, in which there is uncertainty over which stage game will be played based on which dimension of identity is triggered by context.

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  • Steven Lloyd Wilson, 2015. "Social identity, cross-cutting cleavages, and explaining the breakdown of interethnic cooperation," Rationality and Society, , vol. 27(4), pages 455-468, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:27:y:2015:i:4:p:455-468

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    Ethnic conflict; game theory; social identity;


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