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A wonderful study by Ashutosh Varshney, speaks to this issue. The question was why some cities in India had terrible outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence, whereas very similar Indian cities, with equally divided ethnic populations, did not have such violence. The research team examined a multitude of expected predictors: Education, poverty, etc.

What emerged as a key difference were interethnic networks of civic engagement, e.g. professional organisations and informal social networks.  When these were organised across ethnic lines, there was a lack of violence. When they were organised within ethnic groups, violence was much more likely.

Of particular interest was the finding that it was the formal, professional organisations, rather than informal social networks, which were the more important factor. Varshney suggests that these formal organisations are more robust against the attempts of politicians and others who attempt to stir up ethnic conflicts. The very formality of professional associations helps insure that civil discourse and common goals are emphasised over narrow ethnic interests.

[This article is not directly available on the internet, but can be accessed through many university libraries: Varshney, A. (April, 2001). Ethnic conflict and civil society: India and beyond. World Politics, 53(3), 362-398.]

by Kspeak (thorfinn at skip this ameritech dot net as usual) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 07:28:18 AM EST
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When these [professional organisations and informal social networks] were organised across ethnic lines, there was a lack of violence. When they were organised within ethnic groups, violence was much more likely.

This is a very good argument against communitarianism.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 11:26:57 AM EST
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This is a very good argument against communitarianism.

And a good argument for multiculturalism/affirmative action/discrimination positive.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Feb 25th, 2007 at 06:39:57 PM EST
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