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Modeling Ethnic Protest: The Case of the Middle East and Central Asia

In: African and Asian Studies
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EMILE SAHLIYEH Please address correspondence to Dr. Vijayan Pillai, Box 19129, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington TX 76019, e-mail: drpillai@yahoo.com

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SANGEETA SINHA Please address correspondence to Dr. Vijayan Pillai, Box 19129, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington TX 76019, e-mail: drpillai@yahoo.com

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VIJAYAN PILLAI Please address correspondence to Dr. Vijayan Pillai, Box 19129, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington TX 76019, e-mail: drpillai@yahoo.com

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ABSTRACT

Theory: Literature on ethnic protest in the Middle East and Central Asia does not provide empirical measures necessary for rigorous hypothesis testing, nor does it incorporate a comprehensive theoretical foundation needed to identify the conditions for ethnic protest. There is also no consensus on the causes of ethnic protest in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Hypotheses: To improve our ability to explain ethnic protest in the Middle East and Central Asia and to identify the necessary conditions for ethnic dissent, we test five hypotheses embodied in grievance and political mobilization. The literature on ethnic protest in the Middle East and Central Asia references both models but does not systematically test their relevance.

Methodology: We use Logistic Regression to test the explanatory potential of the five hypotheses of the Grievance and Mobilization models. We use Ted Gurr's Minorities at Risk data set, which presents data on 40 ethnic groups in the Middle East and Central Asia. The dependent variable is protest for 1990-95.

Findings: Our research does not lend much empirical support for the grievance model, which dominates the Middle Eastern and Central Asian area study literature. Cultural identity and religious freedom variables of grievance model do not provide sufficient condition for the outbreak of ethnic protest. The mobilization model has better explanatory power. It lends significant support to the three hypotheses associated with the mobilization model and suggests that ethnic protest is more likely to occur under conditions of organizational cohesiveness, low levels of autocracy, and international support.

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