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Ethnic conflict, group polarization, and gender attitudes in Croatia


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    Department of Sociology, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, McGuinn Hall 426, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at Arlington, Box 19599, Arlington, TX 76019-0599 (


We examine the sources of traditional gender attitudes during a period of social conflict and change. Using survey data from Croatia (Center for the Investigation of Transition and Civil Society, 1996; N= 2,030) we explore the relationships between war-related experiences, in-group and out-group polarization, and two dimensions of gender attitudes: policy attitudes (e.g., attitudes toward divorce and abortion) and gendered family roles (e.g., attitudes toward the division of household labor). We argue that ethnic conflict promotes in-group polarization (i.e., attachment to the Croatian nation) and out-group polarization (i.e., distrust of “others”), which lead to a resurgence of traditional values, including traditional gender attitudes. We also examine the effects of childhood socialization, individual resources, and interpersonal familial ties on gender attitudes. Results support the conflict-group polarization model and indicate that out-group polarization has the most powerful effect on both gendered family role attitudes and policy attitudes for men and women. In-group polarization does not affect gender attitudes, however.