I thank the University of Delaware for financial support for this research. Thanks go also to Satoshi Machida, Wang Yu, and Dina Delias for their able help as research assistants; to Rommel Banlaoi, Benny Bacani, and Rufa Guiam for invaluable aid in arranging interviews; and to the dozens of new friends in the Philippines who made research on this project such a pleasure.
Symbols, Frames, and Violence: Studying Ethnic War in the Philippines1
Version of Record online: 27 SEP 2011
© 2011 International Studies Association
International Studies Quarterly
Volume 55, Issue 4, pages 937–958, December 2011
How to Cite
Kaufman, . S. J. (2011), Symbols, Frames, and Violence: Studying Ethnic War in the Philippines. International Studies Quarterly, 55: 937–958. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00689.x
- Issue online: 7 NOV 2011
- Version of Record online: 27 SEP 2011
This article examines the utility of opportunity theory, framing analysis, and symbolic politics theory in explaining the causes of ethnic war, focusing on the 1970s Mindanao case. Opportunity variables are present as expected, but process-tracing shows they do not operate according to the hypothesized mechanisms. The framing approach identifies several important dynamics. The resonance of frames was influenced by the salience of the issue highlighted, the narrative fidelity of the frame to preexisting cultural beliefs, the credibility of leaders proposing them, and processes of frame bridging. Symbolic politics theory offers the most complete explanation, embracing most of the alternative explanations’ insights while filling in their logical gaps. The symbolist analysis begins with group myths justifying hostility on both sides, the result of past Christian–Muslim warfare. Combined with fears of group extinction, opportunity factors, and hostile popular attitudes, these myths enabled group elites to manipulate emotive symbols to justify mobilization against the other group, creating a security dilemma spiral that resulted in the outbreak of war.