Three Conceptulizations of “Ethnicity” and the Pitfalls of Political and Legal Theory

The first thing to consider is that social philosophy and political theory have not yet resolved the debate about whether we have to take the vantage points of Hobbes, Locke, or Kant to see how we could get from “civil” war within polities and “anarchy” between states to global governance and “eternal peace” and - at every critical juncture of history - how we can prevent a “return of history”? (Wendt 1999; Behr 2014) Or to phrase the same problem in another way: Can we dare to raise the question of how to turn a vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle without the immediate response of (neo-)“realists” in all academic disciplines that this is “utopian”, i.e. wishful thinking at best but in “reality” something causing too often more harm than good for the particular “community,” so that the old Roman saying “si vis pacem, para bellum” holds true until the very day?

Second, the so-called “Bockenforde dilemma”[1] - arguing that the liberal, secular state is based on (cultural) preconditions whose existence it cannot guarantee itself - (Bockenforde 1976) does haunt all social theories as long as the confusion of epistemology and ontology is not disentangled; we must not ask why “the” modern, secular state “is not able” to produce (any longer) the necessary trust and solidarity among citizens, let alone vis-a-vis “strangers.” Phrasing the question in such a way, the “answer” offered by Bockenforde is already hidden in his “dilemma” in the form of a petitio principii based on the axiomatic premise of modernity, i.e. secularism: Hence, it must appear as if only “pre-political” homogenous language groups and/or religious “communities”, in short “ethnic” groups, can produce trust and solidarity. Therefore, we must reformulate the Bockenforde dilemma in order to be able to “understand” its hidden ideological prescription: Why “shall” (!) trust and solidarity as allegedly necessary “feelings” for “cultural homogeneity”, state formation and “norm compliance” come only from “pre-existing” language groups or religious “communities” so that solidarity vis-a-vis strangers seems to be impossible?

The answer to this riddle must lay in the de-construction of the legacies of ancient Greek philosophy determining our ways of thinking about “Otherness” and “difference”. The so-called Bockenforde dilemma is nothing but a “reification” of the triadic social relation of identity: equality - solidarity which is deeply embedded in Aristotle’s political theory about the Athenian polity as a “closed system” in which equality and solidarity are seen as possible only between “equals”, i.e. those enjoying the status of citizens and thereby excluding all others also living in the city-state, namely women, metics (foreign merchants), and slaves. With this thought “model” as vantage point, there would indeed be no way out of the “inescapable conflict between man and citizen” (Canovan 1996), i.e. (universal) human rights and citizens’ rights granted only to members in a closed, i.e. “ethnic” polity. Thus, there could be no understanding of the “duality” of institutional “structures,” not only in constraining actions but also (re-)creating and possibly transforming them so that the model of the modern democratic “nation-state,” legally requiring and morally postulating equality and solidarity only among citizens, need not remain the “end of history” (F. Fukuyama). Ideally, such understanding would allow for the (re-)con- ceptualization of social ordering, including trust and solidarity among strangers, and transnational or cosmopolitan law-making beyond “existing” nations and states.

As I try to critically analyze in detail elsewhere (Marko 2017), the red thread running through all the variations of the ideologies of “classic”, biological racism and the “differentialist” racism of right-wing extremist parties in Europe, of “ethnic” versus “civic”- liberal nationalism in the tradition of Hans Kohn, and of “individualistic” versus “communitarian” liberalism is a “meta-theory” of identitarianism (Malesevic 1995). Within this “meta-theory,” “identity” - be it the identity of “the” individual or “the” nation or “the” state - is conceived as pre-political “quality” or “essence” in strict separation from politics as process, so that all conceptualizations and theories of how to conceive, construct and create the “unity” of social, cultural or political “entities” remain trapped in either/or categorizations. Insofar the “deep” structure (Chomsky) of monistic and dualistic “models” of state, law and society “is” the same and remains trapped in the legacy of the bivalent structure of Aristotelian logics, the laws of identity, non-contradiction and the axiomatic conclusion of tertium non datur. Hence, basic divisions in social and legal theory follow from the dichotomic conceptions of monist/dualist versus pluralist theories.

However, as we know from human history, not every encounter between human beings can have started with a fight for survival as theorists like Carl Schmitt and Thomas Hobbes want us to believe with their definition of politics as friend-versus- foe antagonism in the “natural” state of affairs as bellum omnia contra omnes. Nor does every encounter - as we know from everyday practical experience - start as a love story. As a consequence, against all Hobbsian “realism” and methodologically individualist approaches in the social sciences, we must turn to an alternative which views the relationship between identity, equality, and solidarity from a constructivist and historic as well as sociological institutionalist perspective. This view no longer reifies trust and solidarity as if they were emotions in the form of specific psychological properties of individuals which they can “have” only in relation to their “family” members in the extended sense of fellow-citizens but never in relation to “strangers” which cause “fear”, as anthropological “theories” want make us “believe” to be a universal “natural” phenomenon.[2]

This is now the place to ask for the added value which a new cognitive- and neuro-science-based theory of “credition” in terms of processes of “believing” might bring for understanding processes of “ethnification” of socio-cultural relations in pre-conflict phases and to “design” the framework conditions for successful “de-ethnification” as prerequisite for reconciliation in post-conflict phases.

In summarizing the elements of credition theory developed by Angel (2013), Seitz and Angel (2012), and Sugiura et al. (2015), we can state the following: Believing is a self-organizing process composed of cognitive and emotional elements whereby new information from actions or the situation in the outside world is transformed into “perceptions” of objects or about persons due to the “attention” given to the respective phenomenon because of a “selection” among myriads of bits of information coming from the outside through the sensory system. This selection procedure is based on “personal relevance” on the basis of previously stored information, i.e. personal “memory”, combined with a personal value matrix stemming from one’s emotional states. In short, “believing” is thus an act of generating and maintaining a mental construct in terms of mental “representations” of self, other, and the environment as “real” or “true” forming a “cognitive space” or “disposition” in terms of readiness for action.

This framework concept of credition is based on four major functions:

  • • The enclosure function, which integrates different contents of information into a coherent set of knowledge thus conceived as “real” or “true”;
  • • the converter function, which denotes the relationship between a specific belief and specific range of behavior (for instance: “danger”- “rescue”);
  • • the modulator function, which highlights the influence of the individual state of cognitive and or emotional development as “space for action”; and
  • • the stabilizer function, which stabilizes beliefs into more long-lasting “values” and “attitudes” despite of changes in the environment.

Moreover, credition theory perceives that processes of believing take place at three analytically distinct levels which form a “nested” hierarchy:

• At the individual, physical level, “self-agency” is conceptualized as the association of motor action and its feedback sensation. In addition, the physical schema also considers the accommodation of one’s own motor action and the perception of others’ actions.

  • • At the interpersonal level, one’s actions, which are directed towards other persons and the perception of others’ response, are associated. This schema allows the conceptualization of social relationships between the self and others.
  • • At the collective level, the social-value schema associates one’s behavior and the perception of the social evaluation by others responding to this behavior. This schema is concerned with the (social) self-concept, the context-specific selfvalue and social role.

How can we now make use of credition theory for a better understanding of the phenomenon of “ethnicity” in phases before and after violent (ethnic) conflict and the battles of interpretation in social, political, and legal theory over the “best” response to “ethnicity” or even how to “resolve” ethnic conflict?

The ideologies of ethno-nationalism and “primordial” social theories of “ethnicity” will tell us that “ethnicity” is based on the “common origin” of people in terms of “biological descent” called “kinship” or other forms of allegedly “natural” relationship as can be seen from Samuel Huntington’s reasoning in his infamous book on the “Clash of Civilizations” when he argues: “In class and ideological conflicts the key question was ‘Which side are you on?’ and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts between civilizations, the question is: ‘What are you?’ That is a given that cannot be changed” (Huntington 1993:35-6). As a consequence, this form of “ethnic determinism” denies the possibility of changing your “ethnicity,” so that “ethnic difference” can be “seen” as root-cause of conflict which would allow for peace-keeping, if that is possible at all, only through separation and segregation of territory or people in the forms of secession and/or “voluntary” population transfer before the outbreak or in the aftermath of violent conflict.

In striking contrast, more or less radical social constructivist theories will tell us that “ethnicity”, for example, is nothing but the same wrong “belief” people held until very recently that red-haired women are, by definition, possessed with “witchcraft” with red hairs as “objective” marker of this capacity. In conclusion, they argue that we simply have to recognize that ethnicity as a “mental construct” is a false “belief” and to stop “believing” in such inaccurate “mental representations.” As long as this is not achieved, the theory will tell us, “ethnic” entrepreneurs - be they political, economic, or cultural elites - will be able to (mis)use these beliefs as an instrument for satisfying their personal goals.

However, such a “constructivist-instrumental” approach in defining the “meaning” of the term and concept of “ethnicity” cannot answer two, interrelated questions: First, what causes people to “believe” in a concept against their own “interests” so that they - as we have argued above with regard to BiH as a form of “defective democracy” - reelect political leaders again and again who get richer and richer whereas, at the same time, they got poorer and poorer? Second, why does it not work to simply “de-construct” the concept of “ethnicity” in deeply divided societies by revealing the “belief” as “false consciousness,” and start telling people that they simply have to stop perceiving each and everything in the outside world through an “ethnic lens,” having been called the “ethnic” Midas-effect by me?

Hence, in contrast to all individualistic-liberal theories (based on the assumption of pre-given identities, and thus agencies of “persons” assembled like balls on a billboard for a game called “society”) and communitarian theories (which assume that individual behavior is structurally “embedded” in the culture of an a priori given “community”), the axiomatic assumption of the neo-institutionalist approach presented here lies in a different “social fact”. This social fact is that interaction and social relations, i.e. the formation of various kinds of “groupings”, are always “embedded” in a “situative context,” so that interactions in “situations” - not “individuals” with pre-given identities nor pre-given “communities” - are the basic units of analysis whereby “meaning-in-action” is created through speech acts over “norm contestation” (Searle 2010; Wiener 2014).

Following from the constructivist and interpretative turn in the social sciences, the starting point for any social analysis from this perspective must be the insight that diversity and difference are not synonymous, and thus, not identical terms. The various “diversities” among individual human beings with regard to sex, age, or “ethnicity” etc. are an only seemingly “obvious fact” according to which we “believe” to “observe” these diversities. Simultaneously, however, we suppress and thereby hide the fact that we could “discriminate” between individuals and myriads of their “elements” also in many other ways and not only with reference to any of those “imagined” categories (such as “ethnicity”). Accordingly, unlike the indeed “brute fact” of “diversity”, “difference” can never “be” a “natural” property, but must be “constructed” from the perspective of a specific event or situation which forces us to make a “selection” among possible “pattern variables” on the basis of categorizations; this thereby enables us to give “meaning” to the situation through self-perception and the perception of “other,” as this is also conceptualized by the elements of credition theory summarized above.

In line with credition theory, a neo-institutionalist approach must also - against all contestations between methodological individualism and holism in the social sciences (Moses and Knutsen 2012) - analytically distinguish between the three levels of subjective, inter-subjective, and collective intentionality and action (Searle 2010).

At the “subjective” and thus “intrinsic” level where actors and their intentions - which cannot be directly “observed” - do play a decisive role for interaction and the establishment of social relations, an actor’s “understanding” of his or her position in a situation will thus not only depend on his or her mental and physical abilities, but also social capacities stemming from previous experiences and social learning processes, such as acquiring the capacity to use a “language.” Thus, more or less habit- ualized dispositions in the form of internalized “social beliefs”, stipulating rules and roles for living in groups, and the perceptions he or she already has, for instance in the form of prejudices.

Hence, the formation of personal and social “identity” must not be “perceived” as mutually excluding each other in the sense that “society” or other “institutionalized relations” such as family, “the” group etc. is - by definition - constraining the exercise of “free will”, but personal and social identity formation are complementary. It is this “duality of structure and agency” (Giddens 1976) which allows us to recognize - i.e. to “imagine” and to “perceive” and not to “discover” (Searle 2010:105) - the interplay of the reciprocal perception and thus necessary

recognition” in the meaning of “acceptance” of self and other creating the notion of self as “I and me” (Mead 1967:196). Only this form of “mutual recognition” is providing the “sense” of “autonomy” and “distinctiveness” of identity and/or “belonging” (Massey and Abu-Baker 2010), as “disposition” for the possibility of communication since individual intentions together with perceptions about others’ intentions are not sufficient for cooperation among people (Searle 2010), nor - I would like to add in our context of conflict prevention - to trigger violent behavior. Hence, following Petersen’s approach with regard to fear, hatred and resentment as necessary factors for violent conflict (Petersen 2002), we must ask - in line with credition theory - where and how these alleged “emotional” factors come into play in addition to the cognitive elements?

Against the “primordialist” reification of emotions as “intrinsic properties of individuals”, I would like to argue that the “emotional” components come into play already in the association of the subjective and intersubjective level through processes of categorization and stereotyping of self and other which necessarily include an evaluative, i.e. normative, assessment along the lines of “good/bad” for something. Hence, dispositions and perceptions are not simply modes of processing empirical information about an event as “situational context” through the sensory apparatus, but they necessarily also include normative assessments through a “selection” procedure producing “attention” to the phenomenon under observation.

This requires, first, that we have constructed or construct “categories” in our heads by “imagination” and “signification” which are part of what Searle calls the “human capacity for collective intentionality” and the possibility to impose “status functions” on others (Searle 2010:43; 59). Hence, what we “recognize” through observation with our biological sensory organs must already have a “name”, be it an x-element in quantum physics having been sought after for decades and now “discovered” through a new experiment or be it imagined such as “ethnic difference”.

Already the process of the construction of categories is thus both imaginative and normative in terms of “ordering” subjects/objects along the binary code of similar- ity/difference and good/bad for, i.e. functional/dysfunctional, when constructing a model of “entity”/“quality”, i.e. a social “category” such as race, class, gender, or ethnicity. In social relationships, however, we frequently confuse good/bad for the performance of something with good/bad, such as an ethical or moral judgement about persons, groups, and the use of things, which becomes institutionally formalized into law and thereby transformed into the binary code legal/illegal.

Hence, against both Marxist as well as liberal assumptions, and in contrast to all ideologically inspired “naturalizations” of cultural diversity, we must be aware that we construct social, political and legal categories such as “race”, “ethnicity”, “gender”, etc. through three analytically distinct though, in practice, simultaneous and thus inseparable steps:

• On the epistemological level, we have to make a choice based on the binary code

of similarity/difference, which we combine with

• the normative level, where we have to make a choice based on the binary code of

equality/inequality to give either similarity or difference valence so that

• we make, on the empirical level, a choice based on the binary code of inclusion/


Of course, the colour of my skin is an objective, “biological” factor. But, first and above all, it is a normative decision to give exactly that factor personal “relevance” for social and political behaviour based on an “evaluative appraisal” which creates “belief” as “cognitive faculty” and “desire” as “volitional faculty” formed by both “perceptional memory” and future-oriented “prior intentions” (Searle 2010:59, 41). Hence, already at this “abstract” epistemological level, we must recognize that the creation of perceptions requires not only “value-neutral” information processing, but also a normative “assessment” on the basis of the “value”-dichotomy equality/ inequality “of’ and “for” and cannot be reduced to ‘biological’, ‘anthropological’ or ‘psychological’ predetermination of “individual” identities. Second, in defining a ‘people’ or ‘nation’ by so-called objective markers such as language or religious denomination, one again has to make a decision that a particular cultural marker out of a plurality of such markers shall be the ‘common’ characteristic to be found in a certain number of people, thereby constructing a ‘category’ and not a ‘group’ in the sociological sense. Hence, it is a normative decision and not an empirical fact that the characteristics that people have ‘in common’ constitute a particular people or nation in our “imagination” so that the alleged identity of ‘common’ characteristics is nothing else but the normative concept of equality with the demand to treat individuals with those ascribed ‘common’ characteristics equally.

However, ethnicity has no ‘substantial’ content or meaning, as I have demonstrated elsewhere through an analysis of all theories of nationalism and ethnicity (Marko 2017), but is “representing” the dichotomisation of group relations in line with credition theory into a “societal configuration” of an “us-versus-them” mindset as we will demonstrate below with the example of the process of dissolution of former Yugoslavia. In line with the enclosure and converter functions postulated by credition theory, ‘ethnicity’ is thus not an inherent, ‘natural’ trait or ‘essential property’ of people(s) or territories, but a structural code with the political function of exclusion or inclusion. And it is the political function of ‘nationalism’ as an ideology, be it ethnic or civic, to ‘camouflage’ these normative decisions in the social construction of political ‘unity’. By pretending the existence of ‘natural’ characteristics, power relations are concealed, legitimised and, at the same time, immunised against critique.

Thus, very often, fear or hatred of others are also wrongly conceptualized, as when conceived as universal intrinsic, emotional properties of all human beings without recognizing that such an “essentializing” psychological approach overlooks that fear, hatred, and resentment are, first and above all, cognitive constructions. Thus, combined with differentiated emotional re-(!)actions called “affection” according to the converter function of credition theory, fear and/or hatred become part of the process of “believing” specific alleged “security dilemmas” or “status injustices” stemming from perceptions of specific situational patterns[3]. In conclusion, all of the ideas about the necessity of a pre-given or pre-political “community” or even more abstract “horizon of meaning” as (logically) necessary or even functionally required for “understanding”, in itself then conceptualized as functional prerequisite of “feelings” of “mutual trust” and “solidarity”, are nothing but an “essentialization” of functions or even “naturalization” of social relations when “trust” and “solidarity” are conceptualized as if they were only “emotions.”

In conclusion, we can thus identify three different ‘meanings’ of the concept of ethnicity. So far, we have dealt with the dichotomic opposition of primordialist and constructivist theories:

  • Primordialist theories and the twin-ideologies of racism and ethno-nationalism claim that ethnicity is a ‘given’ universal category insofar as the social world is divided into a plurality of ethnic communities based on ‘common descent’ and a ‘homogenous culture’ (language, religion, values and practices) which stand - by definition - in a position of latent conflict to each other.
  • • A constructivist-instrumentalist position understands ethnicity as the perceived expectation - i.e. generalised stereotype - that “diversity” in terms of fictitious, but imputed biological “descent” (“the” Jews) or “national”-geographic origin (“the” Italians, Turks, etc.) and thus “cultural differentiation” in terms of symbolic categorization and normative ordering of the social world can determine others’ social behaviour. This can then lead to “ethnic” boundary-making by “ethnic” entrepreneurs through various political strategies. However, so the argument goes, a “non-ethnic”, i.e. “civic” social world would be the “ideal” against any “essentialization” of social relations into “cultures”, let alone “ethnic groups”, so that - in the end - “ethnicity” shall “wither away” like in Marx’s and Engels’ proposition for “the” state.

If we do not “believe” in any of the viewpoints above with regard to our research problem of how to assess the possibilities for reconciliation in deeply divided societies, we have then to conceptualize a third “perspective”:

• A constructivist-structuralist position insists that there is also something like a ‘neo-primordial’[4] deep ethnic division of societies as this is the case in BiH, which is not “fictitious”, but a mental representation of social reality constraining action at all levels and in all dimensions of what I have called the ethnic Midas effect above. In such a situation, individuals no longer have a “real choice” for action because of asymmetric power relations, which result in the socioeconomic and ethnic stratification of societies, mutually reinforcing each other.

Hence, as long as the ideologically constructed propositions of the so called Bockenforde dilemma discussed above and the opposition of equality and difference with the alleged predetermination for conflict and cooperation are not transformed into the triadic structure of identity: diversity and solidarity, institutionalized diversity management and governance will not be possible. Only when we no longer “believe” in the essentialized “nature” of social and political behavior do we approach - at least at the theoretical level - the possibility of looking for institutional arrangements of equality on the basis of diversity as the new “essential” task of constructive institution engineering for the purpose of multiple diversity governance.

These concepts of institutionalization and structure bring us now to the social and legal theory in line with the interplay of credition theory’s second, intersubjective, and, third collective level and their “stabilizer” function, i.e. the processes of social integration and systemic integration.

Social integration is based on “enculturation” through the acquisition of knowledge and capacities, and varies according to “social distance” to a greater or lesser extent, created by “status positioning” through individual and social recognition in interpersonal contacts, in particular in the educational system, labor market, and through participation in institutional settings. This leads to “interperceptions”, i.e. thinking of Me and other persons in a particular way from a “holistic” and therefore triangular perspective, which may lead to the development of distinctive (normative) standards and (behavioral) traditions (Massey and Abu-Baker 2010). In other words, socialization and internalization of such “social beliefs” lead to more or less cognitive and emotional “identification” with an “entity” the persons “believes” thus to “belong” to.

Social integration is thus dependent on the “openness” of dispositional attitudes of all actors involved in interaction. Hence, the decisive question is the interdependence of identity formation and the formation of different varieties of groups through symbolically institutionalized boundary-making (Wimmer 2013).

There are either “diffuse” or “clearly” demarcated symbolic and institutionalized boundaries following from identification with social beliefs. Hence, with “barricaded” or “corporate” identities, a person is classified as belonging only to a “fixed” category such as ethnicity and definitively distinguished thus from members of other groups. With a “bounded” identity, however, a person identifies with a group which partially defines self, but such an identity also allows for non-exclusive, complementary perceptions of self as belonging also to other categories or groups, in short, “multiple” identities.

Hence, contacts between persons “believing” to belong to different categories or groups do not automatically “re-personalize” and thereby “de-categorize” intersubjective relations and thus motivate peaceful cooperation, but contact between persons with “barricaded” identities in “diffuse” situations can also trigger aggression due to their, for instance, (social) beliefs in status inconsistencies, i.e. “resentment” in Petersen’s terminology. The opportunity for reconciliation is thus improved only through contact when persons seen as belonging to other groups are evaluated as describable in multiple classifications, and not as members of essentialized categories. Conversely, the lack of contact may help polarize “us-vs.-them” images and emphasize in-group exclusiveness (Massey and Abu-Baker 2010), as we know from phenomena such as being an anti-Semite without ever meeting a Jew or fearing strangers without ever meeting a refugee.

In conclusion, we have to see that social integration and systemic integration in terms of social cohesion of a given society go hand-in-hand in what Searle signifies as “collective intentionality” and “assignment of status functions” through “declarations,” thereby creating “human institutional ontology” (Searle 2010:59, 69). Through such speech acts, human beings are able to make themselves and others believe “in being” something that matters. This is the process by which institutions such as money or legal persons, for instance multinational corporations, are created ex nihilo and start to have a social reality of their own. Collective intentionality and the syntactical elements of language make it even possible to create an impossible,

i.e. utopian, state of affairs.

From the perspective of ideal-types, the interplay of social and systemic integration through the assignment of status functions may lead to four different “configurations” of society, again “structured” around the basic normative value and principle of equality/inequality on the one hand, and the question of “boundedness” of groups on the other.

  • • Social and systemic integration are “successful” from a functional perspective - following Searle’s observation that functional assessments lead us to use “normative vocabulary” - in the case of identity and group formation in terms of allowing for dual identities, excluding thereby the “closure” of group boundaries and thus fixed group “antagonisms.” This then leads to the formation of multicultural societies based on the normative principle of status equality of individuals as well as groupings despite of horizontal “cultural differentiation” of society, so that cultural markers such as language or religion are not given social and political relevance with regard to access to education, the labor market, or political participation.
  • • However, as we could learn from socio-economic conflicts in European history from the development of capitalism not only as a mode of production, but also “structuration” of societies, if only a minority of persons with “barricaded”, individualistic identities becomes economically and politically dominant with the vision of “social space” as a “market” where only competition to satisfy his/her own interests is the guiding principle, they bring about a vertical hierarchy in terms of socio-economic stratification and thus a division of society along these lines so that, for a historical example, Benjamin Disraeli could declare in the first half of the nineteenth century even before the publication of the Communist Manifesto for Great Britain that (only) “two nations”, rich and poor, live in this country (Disraeli 1845).
  • • If functional differentiation through specialization is “re-interpreted” in cultural terms, this is the vantage point for a process of “ethnification” of society which can be observed through “ethnic segmentation”, i.e. a horizontal hierarchy between groups because of their systemic, i.e. “structural” occupation of parts of social subsystems. Hence, there may be “separate, but equal’1 occupational sectors where only members of a grouping in the process of “closure" and thus process of “ethnification” get access; other empirical indicators for such a process are the separation of private and public educational facilities only for members of specific groups. Additionally, there may be the proposal to introduce different legal systems as an “exemption” from the monopoly in the exercise of “legitimate power” of the “modern” state, in this case a uniform legal system for the adjudication of conflicts within specific groups as this would be the case, for instance, with the introduction of a Sharia-court system in Western democracies in cases of family conflicts among Muslims. This form of society with an “ethnic segmentation” of social subsystems is what I call the “model” of a “pluri-ethnic society.”
  • • Finally, the mutually-reinforcing socio-economic stratification and ethnic segmentation may lead to the socio-economic deprivation and cultural marginalization of entire groups of society, called “ethclasses” by Milton Gordon (1964), and thus to deeply divided societies as a consequence of the total failure of social and systemic integration. Examples for this case are Sinti and Roma all over Europe or so-called “first nations”, i.e. Inuit and Indians, in Canada who suffer from multiple instances of “structural” discrimination.
  • • In stark contrast to this case, there are groups who were formerly conceived as national “minorities” in centralized nation-states who got, however, a strong political position in the process of transition into “pluri-national” states or federations over the last decades such as the Scots in Great Britain, Catalans in Spain, and the Flemish in Belgium, and who also belong to the richest regions in Europe but nonetheless claim for secession as a symbol for deep divisions.

So, how useful are these reconceptualizations of “ethnicity” in the process of social “identity” formation and the political mobilization of groupings with the help of credition theory to re-assess the possibilities of reconciliation in deeply divided societies such as BiH?

  • [1] “Der freiheitliche, sakulare Staat lebt von Voraussetzungen, die er nicht garantieren kann.
  • [2] I have critically analyzed this sort of anthropological “evidence” in Marko (1995:77-81) anddemonstrated how “fear” as universal category can be and is misused to transform the “Other” intoscapegoats for each and everything.
  • [3] Thus, the converter function also allows one to distinguish between “fear”, “hatred” and “rage” asthis is claimed in general by Petersen (2002), Prinz (2012), Ross (2014).
  • [4] I have to thank my colleague Benedikt Harzl for helping me to clarify this point through ourdebates on “ethnic” conflict.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >