The 'narcissism of minor differences' theory : Can it explain ethnic conflict?
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In many ethnic conflicts and civil wars in the 20th century the cultural differences between the warring groups were very small. The bloody conflicts between Serbs, Croatians, and Bosnians during the breakup of Yugoslavia are a case in point. This observation has led some commentators to conclude that a lack of objective cultural markers between groups may itself be conducive to violence: When the members of two groups are difficult to tell apart, violence is inserted in order to create identity boundaries between them. One particular version of this theory goes under the name ‘narcissism of minor differences’. This expression goes back to Sigmund Freud, who applied it both to individual psychology and in his philosophy of culture. The notion has been largely ignored by practicing psychotherapists, but over the last decades, however, it has been discovered by journalists and social scientists and applied to cases of collective rather than individual violence. The present article examin...es some of the articles and books that expound the ‘the narcissism of minor differences’-concept in order to assess the explanatory strength and weaknesses of this theory.
Keywords:Narcissism of minor differences / Ethnic conflict / Cultural differences / Psihologija / Filozofija kulture
Source:Filozofija i društvo, 2007, 153-171
- Beograd : Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju