A Baseline Model of Change in an Activated Ethnic Demography

Kanchan Chandra and Cilanne Boulet

in Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199893157
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980079 | DOI:
A Baseline Model of Change in an Activated Ethnic Demography

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Why does the activated ethnic demography of some countries to change while that of others remains stable? And if change can occur, what proportion of individuals in the population have the option to change? This chapter proposes a baseline model of short-term change in activated ethnic demography through electoral politics. It is based on the intuition that politicians are combinatorial entrepreneurs, who fashion ethnic identity categories by stringing together attributes into combinations that produce minimum winning electoral coalitions. We argue that change in an activated ethnic demography is possible when that population's ethnic structure generates multiple nominal ethnic identity categories of minimum winning size, and identify the conditions under which this possibility exists. The model generates three main results (1) The possibility of some change in the activated ethnic demography exists for most populations. (2) If the possibility of change exists, it does so in most cases for all individuals in a population. (3) The possibility of change for both populations and individuals is not predicted by dichotomies such as “cross-cutting v/s coinciding cleavages” or “bipolar v/s multipolar” cleavages but by a more general concept—the “distribution of attribute-repertoires”—which allows us for to predict and compare the possibility of change associated with any sort of cleavage structure.

Keywords: ethnic demography; elections; coalitions; minimum winning; majority rule; ethnic diversity; India; Rwanda; South Africa; Sri Lanka

Chapter.  17906 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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