Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The book is motivated by a disjuncture in social science research on ethnicity, politics and economics: Although theories of the formation of ethnic groups are driven by the constructivist assumption that ethnic identities can change over time, theories of the effect of ethnicity on economic and political outcomes are driven by the primordialist assumption that these identities are fixed. This book is a first cut at building-and rebuilding-our theories of politics and economics on a fortified constructivist foundation. It proposes a new conceptual framework for thinking about ethnic identity. It uses this framework to synthesize constructivist arguments into a set of testable propositions about how and why ethnic identities change. It translates this framework-and the propositions derived from it-into a new, combinatorial language. And it employs these conceptual, constructivist, and combinatorial tools to theorize about the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics using a variety of methods. Taking the possibility of change in ethnic identity into account, this book shows, dismantles the theoretical logics linking ethnic diversity to negative outcomes and processes such as democratic destabilization, clientelism, riots and state collapse. Even more importantly, it changes the questions we can ask about the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages518
ISBN (Electronic)9780199980079
ISBN (Print)9780199893157
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013


  • Combinatorics
  • Constructivism
  • Democracy
  • Elections
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • Mechanisms
  • Patronage
  • Secession
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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