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WSU Access

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Frederic S. Pearson


This study analyzes the relationship between identity-based, or discriminatory, policy and the occurrence of ethnopolitical violence. A discriminatory policy is the merging of communal group identity with the state apparatus. Although governments are expected to be neutral arbiters among potentially competing identity groups within the state, they can, in effect, be captured by a particular dominant identity group. As dominant groups seek to assert their identity and merge dominant group identity with the national government, discriminatory policies ensue, such as the establishment of a national religion or language. Groups who feel disadvantaged by the policy may begin to fear for their own security and political interests, motivating them to rebel. A random sample of 30 countries is analyzed using binomial cross-sectional time series. Findings suggest that state characteristics, including colonial history, cultural polarization, and geographic region, matter. In addition, certain types of policy (linguistic, religious, economic/political) and policy intent impact results as well. In general, the study presented identifies a strong correlation between discriminatory policy change and ethnopolitical violence, particularly as states become more democratic.

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