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Horizontal inequality, status optimization, and interethnic marriage in a conflict-affected society

McDoom, Omar Shahabudin (2016) Horizontal inequality, status optimization, and interethnic marriage in a conflict-affected society. WIDER Working Paper (2016/167). UNU-WIDER, Helsinki, Finland. ISBN 9789292562113

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Abstract

Although several theories of interethnic conflict emphasize ties across group boundaries as conducive to ethnic coexistence, little is known about how such ties are formed. Given their integrative potential, I examine the establishment of cross-ethnic marital ties in a deeply divided society and ask what drives individuals to defy powerful social norms and sanctions and to choose life-partners from across the divide. I theorize such choices as the outcome of a struggle between social forces and individual autonomy in society. I identify two channels through which social forces weaken and individual autonomy increases to allow ethnic group members to establish ties independently of group pressures: elite autonomy and status equalization. I find, first, that as an individual’s educational status increases, and second, as between-group inequality declines, individuals enjoy greater freedom in the choice of their social ties. However, I also find that in an ethnically ranked society this enhanced autonomy is exercised by members of high-ranked and low-ranked groups differently. Members from high-ranked groups become more likely to inmarry; low-ranked group members to outmarry. I suggest a status-optimization logic lies behind this divergent behaviour. Ethnic elites from high-ranked groups cannot improve their status through outmarriage and their coethnics, threatened by the rising status of the lower-ranked group, seek to maintain the distinctiveness of their status superiority through inmarriage. In contrast, as their own individual status or their group’s relative status improves, members of low-ranked groups take advantage of the opportunity to upmarry into the higher-ranked group. I establish these findings in the context of Mindanao, a conflict-affected society in the Philippines, using a combination of census micro-data on over two million marriages and in-depth interview data with inmarried and outmarried couples.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/
Additional Information: © 2016 UNU-WIDER
Divisions: Government
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D74 - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education
Z - Other Special Topics > Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology > Z13 - Social Norms and Social Capital; Social Networks
Sets: Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2017 11:10
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2019 00:04
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/68932

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