Ethnic Conflict in FYR Macedonia and the Balkans
Chapter 1Ethnic Conf lict from a Strategic Perspective 11
Chapter 1 Ethnic Conf lict from a Strategic Perspective Ethnic conf lict is a particular kind of dispute about political, economic, social, cultural and territorial issues (or a combination of all these) between two or more ethnic groups characterized by distinct strengths and weak- nesses in a constant struggle for survival and strategic advancement. Amongst a multiplicity of theories attempting to explain the emergence and violent transformation of ethnic conf lict, we distinguish the predominant theory of relative deprivation due to its interpretive depth and empirical rigour, as well as for the constant and intense criticism this theory has attracted. The theory of relative deprivation brings in an enduring account of what many people, – regardless of ethnic, racial, or social background, – may feel, or think of their personal lives and fortunes. In many instances, people’s feelings and reactions are based on perceptions that the circum- stances of their lives are not providing benefits to which they feel entitled. Such perceptions may equally apply to relatively privileged individuals or members of groups who may believe that they deserve a better treatment or future. Today most analysts are convinced that these perceptions of dis- content, no matter if accurate or f lawed, are typically created and measured in comparative perspectives and determined by subjective expectations and capabilities. In fact, the depth of deprivation and the intensity of frustra- tion it creates are often determined by comparing one’s own position to another’s (Runciman, 1966:15). Basically, the theory presumes that the more individuals...
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