The Ethos of Intractable Interethnic Conflict: Research Approaches and Prospects

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The present article deals with the concept of ‘ethos’ as applied to intractable interethnic conflicts - this topic has hardly ever been addressed in Russian scientific literature. The ethos of conflict is defined as a system of social beliefs and myths shared by a large group of people involved in a long-term intractable conflict and closely connected with the history of the conflict that dominates in this society, i.e. the collective memory of it. The concept of ‘intractable interethnic conflict’ was introduced into Russian psychology by T.G. Stefanenko, who began to study the phenomenology of such conflicts at the Department of Social Psychology of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Following the line, the article introduces the reader to modern research in this area. In the first part of the work, the author gives a definition of an intractable conflict, analyzes D. Bar-Tal’s theory of the ethos of conflict and describes methods for studying it applied in foreign social psychology. The author also describes the content of eight topics, around which the beliefs that make up the ethos of conflict are grouped. The second part of the article deals with the critics of contemporary ethos of conflict researches and new approaches to this phenomenon. The following three current trends in studying the ethos of conflict are highlighted: the first one is associated with an attempt to explain the ethos of conflict stability within the categories of J. Jost’s system justification theory (SJT); the second one is based on the assumption that the beliefs of members of a conflicting group are not uniform; therefore, it is important to study not only the prevailing social point of view on the conflict but also alternative views of minor or even outsider groups (rather opposing the ethos), because it is often an alternative view that can help out of a seemingly insoluble situation; and the last one is connected with research at the intersection of the phenomenology of the ethos of conflict and collective memory.

About the authors

Elena O. Golynchik

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.
11 Mokhovaya St., bldg. 9, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Ph.D. in Psychology, is Associate Professor at Social Psychology Department of Faculty of Psychology


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