Ethnic conflict  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An ethnic conflict is a conflict between two or more contending ethnic groups. While the source of the conflict may be political, social, economic or religious, the individuals in conflict must expressly fight for their ethnic group's position within society. This final criterion differentiates ethnic conflict from other forms of struggle.

Ethnic conflict does not necessarily have to be violent. In a multi-ethnic society where freedom of speech is protected, ethnic conflict can be an everyday feature of plural democracies. For example, ethnic conflict might be a non-violent struggle for resources divided among ethnic groups. However, the subject of the confrontation must be either directly or symbolically linked with an ethnic group. In healthy multi-ethnic democracies, these conflicts are usually institutionalized and "channeled through parliaments, assemblies and bureaucracies or through non-violent demonstrations and strikes." While democratic countries cannot always prevent ethnic conflict flaring up into violence, institutionalized ethnic conflict does ensure that ethnic groups can articulate their demands in a peaceful manner, which reduces the likelihood of violence. On the other hand, in authoritarian systems, ethnic minorities are often unable to express their grievances. Grievances are instead allowed to fester which might lead to long phases of ethnic silence followed by a violent outburst. Therefore, ethnic peace is an absence of violence, not an absence of conflict. Another consequence is that violent ethnic rebellions often result in political rights for previously marginalized groups.

Academic explanations of ethnic conflict generally fall into one of three schools of thought: primordialist, instrumentalist or constructivist. Recently, several political scientists have argued for either top-down or bottom-up explanations for ethnic conflict. Intellectual debate has also focused on whether ethnic conflict has become more prevalent since the end of the Cold War, and on devising ways of managing conflicts, through instruments such as consociationalism and federalisation.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ethnic conflict" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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