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Abstract

Beginning in the 1990s, a trend of using the security dilemma to explain ethnic violence has emerged. However, previous research mainly focuses on individual cases with large-scale violence; whether ethnic security dilemma theory is a sound approach to explain less violent ethnic conflict remains unclear. This paper employs a large-N design and tests the hypothesis that the ethnic security dilemma causes ethnic conflicts, without discriminating between differences in severity and scale of conflict. The paper also conducts a longitudinal comparison with a previous quantitative model using the latest data available. The empirical results do not support the hypothesis and suggest that the explanatory power of the ethnic security dilemma has declined over time. Although there is no definite conclusion that the ethnic security dilemma is not a useful explanation for less violent ethnic conflicts, given the limitations of this research, I conclude with a theoretical discussion questioning the applicability of the theory. Supplemented with this qualitative assessment, I conclude that a quantitative study of the ethnic security dilemma used to explain ethnic violence may not be a viable option for future research in this field.

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