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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11197

Title: Opposition, Politicisation and Simplification: Social and Psychological Mechanisms of Elite-led Mobilisation
Authors: Desrosiers, Marie-Eve
Advisor: Homer-Dixon, Thomas
Department: Political Science
Keywords: Mobilization
Conflict
Rwanda
Yugoslavia
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2008
Abstract: Drawing on insights from social psychological literature on identity formation, and on social movement and contentious politics literature, this research focuses on elite strategies to gain from or survive a crisis. The research specifically looks at strategies to foster popular support and mobilisation. It explores the use of divisive and ethno-centric discourses and policies aimed at mobilising supporters in times of instability or crisis. More specifically, it studies why some elite mobilising appeals have traction. To do so, the research examines social and psychological mechanisms behind group solidarity. A heightened sense of group solidarity is what leads individuals to think in terms of the group, a necessary step for mobilisation. From there, they can be made to feel appeals for collective action are warranted. Three mechanisms in particular are discussed: opposition, politicisation and simplification. Opposing entails enhancing feelings of attachment by creating a sense of antagonistic relations with another group. Politicising consists in ascribing to group identities a political nature, more conducive to contentious relations. The final strategy is simplification. It amounts to simplifying interpretations of the situation and environment so as to make them more readily internalisable. This framework is applied to contemporary Rwanda and to the lead-up to the wars in Yugoslavia. In the Rwandese case, cultural and historical references were repeatedly used by ruling regimes to foster a Hutu uprising against the Tutsi population. This tactic eventually played a fundamental role in triggering the 1994 genocide. In the former Yugoslavia, Croatian and Serbian elites antagonised group relations by agitating nationalist rhetoric. Though this was a strategy to stay in power or gain support, it also led to the break-up of Yugoslavia and to wars in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11197
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Political Science - Doctoral theses

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