The Territorial Management of Ethnic Conflict

By John Coakley | Go to book overview
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12

Conclusion

Towards a Solution?

JOHN COAKLEY

The contributions that constitute the core of this volume provide sufficient material for us to seek to generalize, in conclusion, about the character of the state's response in the territorial domain to the issues raised by ethnic conflict. An obvious approach is to begin with the issue raised in the introduction: the menu of options open to the state. Following an elaboration of this point, the discussion turns to the theme of this book, as developed in the chapters that have undertaken case studies of the territorial management of ethnic conflict. Looked at from the perspective of the state elites, the question is this: what patterns are there in approaches to the management of ethnic problems, and how may the selection of one of these rather than another be accounted for? Finally, a short concluding section seeks to highlight some common themes that emerge from the book.


STATE AND TERRITORY: THE OPTIONS

In the context of persistent and powerful ethnic demands, the state has a number of options open to it. 1 Some of these are essentially or entirely non-territorial. Those which do have a territorial component may all be classified in terms of the pattern of division of power between a political centre and sub-state units. One of the more systematic explorations of these relationships is Duchacek's 11-point scale, useful as a framework for describing this pattern. At one extreme lies totalitarian centralism, the ultimate stage in unrestricted elite control; following this, we have a less thoroughgoing variant, authoritarian centralism. The next three stages correspond with different types of unitary state: those which are pluralistic but centralized, those which are moderately decentralized, and those which are highly decentralized. At the mid-point in the scale lies federalism. This is followed by formal confederation, and then by permanent regional organizations or common markets. The last three

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