Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Alan Isaak

Second Advisor

Dr. Lawrence Ziring

Third Advisor

Dr. Barbara McCrea

Fourth Advisor

Dr. James Jaksa


This interdisciplinary research develops a framework or a model for the study of the politicization of ethnicity, a process that transforms peaceful ethnic conflict into violent inter-ethnic conflict. The hypothesis investigated in this study is that the ethnopolitical conflict that led to the break up of former Yugoslavia was the result of deliberate politicization of ethnicity. The model consists o f three variables— ethnic entrepreneurs as actors, and mass media and political rhetoric as their tools for politicization of ethnicity. Ethnic entrepreneurs, with a conscious interest in mobilizing ethnicity, are given this opportunity in transitional societies in which politicized ethnicity has become the crucial principle of political legitimation. Specifically, this study seeks to explain how political leaders may turn into ethnic entrepreneurs and then draw upon existing non-violent ethnic tensions and conflict (a phenomenon existing in every multiethnic society) to generate ethnopolitical conflict. The propositions o f the model will be tested through a case study of Yugoslavia, specifically, a comparative study of the Yugoslav subunits Croatia and Serbia.

This research argues that it is necessary to conduct independent analyses o f ethnic and political aspects o f violent inter-ethnic conflicts. Only in recognizing the contexts in which ethnicity can be politicized and the mechanisms by which ethnicity is politicized, can we recognize the true nature o f the violent inter-ethnic conflict and then develop strategies for the prevention of such conflicts.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access