The determinants of low-intensity intergroup violence - Laia Balcells

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What accounts for low-intensity intergroup violence?  Laia Balcells explores this question, focusing on the case of Northern Ireland, in new research available here and a summary here.

Overall, our micro-level study of contemporary interethnic violence in Northern Ireland suggests that segregation and physical separation of groups is generally not a solution to ethnic violence. By impeding regular interaction, segregation worsens intergroup trust and increases threat perceptions. Threat perceptions ignite into violence in the interface areas where the two groups meet. Notably, we find that violence takes place between segregated communities even in the extreme cases in which physical barriers are built to completely separate the groups, which makes the existence of these barriers seem quite futile. Our findings speak of a particular case, Northern Ireland, but these are lessons that should easily travel to other settings where segregation between communities is being considered as a possible solution to violence.

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