Cultural Leaders and the Clash of Civilizations

Abstract

This article builds a micro founded model of the clash of cultures. The clash is defined as the parent's fear of a trait change by their child in an overlapping generations model with intergenerational transmission of cultural traits. The extent of the clash is manipulated by cultural leaders who benefit from the cultural education e€ort by parents. We identify three channels through which the leaders can affect the clash of cultures: (i) by providing beneficial cultural values, (ii) by claims of cultural superiority and (iii) by cultural alienation, i.e. by inducing cultural dislike towards their own group. We show that all three channels can be in the leader's interest but channels (ii) and (iii) reduce the utility of the leader's goup members. This hints to a strong conflict of interest within groups - between the population at large and the benefactors of radicalization. We further show how the use of alienation relates to the economic opportunities available to a group.
Published as: Polarization, Fractionalization and Conflict in Journal of Peace Research , Vol. 45, No. 2, 163--182, January, 2008