Bargaining Chips: Examining the role of Economic Crisis in Serbian Minority-Majority Relations

Contemporary ethnic bargaining theory claims that minority ethnopolitical mobilization is best understood through the influence of a third-party actor, whose signals can determine whether a minority will radicalise against or accommodate the position of the state majority. It is a dynamic approach, which Erin Jenne argues goes beyond the limits of explaining minority actions using purely structural features of a group, including economic status. This article questions to what extent, if any, do shifts in the economic status of a minority, host-state and kin state affect the ethnic bargaining game, particularly in times of crisis. It uses a comparative case study of the Albanian and Hungarian minorities in Serbia since 2006, in order to explore whether or not the differences between their mobilization activities can be adequately explained by expanding Jenne’s ethnic bargaining model to include structural economic differences. It concludes that although inclusion of economic status as an additional piece in the ethnic bargaining puzzle does expand the levels of analysis, ultimately it does not address other limitations of using the model to understand minority mobilization.

Laura Wise

Laura Wise

Laura Wise is a Joint MA Candidate in Southeastern European Studies at the Universities of Graz and Belgrade. She holds an Bsc (Econ) in International Politics from Aberystwyth University and an MA in Comparative Ethnic Conflict from Queen’s University Belfast. Her research interests include ethnic conflict management, minority mobilisation, and comparative politics.

Does the inclusion of economic theory into ethnic bargaining models improve our understanding of ethnic conflict?
Which do you think is a more influential driver of minority mobilisation: measurable economic indicators or an ethnic minority’s perceptions of their economic position within the state?
How could the levels of analysis used in a quadratic bargaining game be applied to other cases of minority-majority conflict in Southeastern Europe?
What are the limitations of the use of ethnic bargaining models to understand ethnic conflict?

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Vrbensky, Ratislav. 2008. Can development prevent conflict? Integrated area-based development in the Western Balkans – theory, practice and policy recommendation. London: Centre for the Study of Global Governance (LSE).


Southeastern Europe