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Rationality, emotions, and ethnicity: Explaining elite political alignments in a deeply divided society

Omar Shahabudin McDoom

No wp-2023-122, WIDER Working Paper Series from World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER)

Abstract: The role of ethnicity in political behaviour remains unsettled theoretically. Instrumentalist theories emphasize cognitive processes, arguing that political actors strategically employ ethnicity to attain certain goals, while expressivist theories highlight affectual forces, arguing that actors are motivated by the intrinsic emotional power of identity. I show that neither approach adequately explains real-world intra-ethnic and cross-ethnic behaviour. I develop a new theory, integrating rationality and emotion, and argue that they work together in political decision-making.

Keywords: Behaviour; Ethnicity; Rwanda (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-neu
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