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How does war affect group identity? Does common threat unite ethnic groups behind the nation? What explains subethnic heterogeneity in identity responses? To answer these questions, scholarship to date has relied on laboratory settings or postwar surveys. The difficulty of conducting social inquiry in wartime means we lack systematic data on identity within real world conflict episodes. The author addresses this gap by exploiting a unique source of exogenous variation—the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)—during the fieldwork for a nationally representative survey in Iraq. He finds systematic differences in the identity responses of Sunni and Shi’i Iraqis. While Shi’is cleave to the nation, Sunnis mobilize behind an Arab identity. In tribal areas, however, Sunnis rally behind the nation. Findings are explained with reference to prior attachment and achieved cooperation. Excluded groups are less likely to identify with the nation, but where organization enables interethnic cooperation, wartime mobilization generates national loyalty.
American Journal of Sociology – University of Chicago Press
Published: Nov 1, 2021
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