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Lake and Rothchild: Containing fear

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Lake and Rothchild. 1996. Containing fear: The origins and management of ethnic conflict. International Security 21 (fall): 41-75.

In Brief

When ethnic groups come to fear for their future (physical) security, they prepare for conflict, thus initiating a security dilemma. Several things can cause such a fear to develop, such as a decline in cultural security or past experience with conflict. The factor that Lake and Rothchild dwell on the most is rising anarchy, essentially a Hobbesian argument: as the Leviathan (the state) declines (becomes unable to prevent conflict), ethnic groups fear that their physical security may be at risk.


Why War instead of a Bargin?

This is where the strategic dilemmas come in to play. The three variables under X2 come directly from Fearon 1995. Details:

Internal Strategic Problems

Solving Ethnic Conflict

"We can only hope to contain ethnic fears, not permanently eliminate them." The last half of the article considers several policy options to help reduce fear and overcome the strategic problems, beginning with the adoption of confidence-building measures.

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Lake, David (author)Rothchild, Donald (author)International RelationsEthnic ConflictRational ChoiceUncertaintyCredible CommitmentSecurity DilemmaInformationBargaining

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