Identity Conflict Based on Social Theories
In 1994 the Rwandan genocide resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by Hutus. Estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000,
The extent of the unleashed anger and violence that occurred shocked the world. The scale of the conflict is succinctly summarized by Jones ( 2001).
It is difficult to overstate the scale or brutality of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Between 6 April and 17 July, the Rwandan state engaged in an act of mass carnage against its own population, targeting a minority ethnic group and political opponents. In a mere fourteen weeks, several hundred thousand people — perhaps as many as a million — were gunned down, beaten to death, or literally hacked to pieces by machete, often after being raped, tortured, and forced to watch or participate in the execution of family members (Jones, 2001, p. 1).
This event also led to tremendous social upheaval and about fifty percent of the population were displaced due to there fighting. “The Rwandan genocide was horrific even by the standards of a century repeatedly marred by mass political and ethnic slaughters” (Jones, 2001, p. 1).
The horrendous genocide that took place as a result of the conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups has been a cause of much debate and theoretical soul-searching in recent years. In the light of postmodern and post-structural discourse there has been a renewed interest in the importance of the relationship between social and psychological identity and prejudice and oppression. As a result the underlying causative factors in the Rwandan conflict have become a subject that reflects on contemporary views and theoretical assessments of the concept of identity in societies. This has meant that the analysis of Rwandan conflict and genocide is part of a reevaluation of the meaning of identity and how the differences in group and individual perceptions of identity could have led to genocide on the scale and ferocity of Rwanda.
In this light, a central thesis that will be explored in this paper is that the understanding of identity and identity conflict needs to be expanded beyond the psychological or purely sociological dimensions. In order to understand how identity acted as a fuse to the Rwandan genocide it will be suggested that a more inclusive and comprehensive theoretical perspective on identity needs to be adopted.
Theoretical perspectives on the conflict
In order to understand the origins of the conflict one must take into account the pre-colonial myths that were an important factor in the animosity between the Hutu Tutsi groups. This refers to the Rwandan origin myths that was promulgated to justify hierarchical relationships and inequalities in the society and which were later to simmer into genocide. The myth of Kigwa, a deity who fell from heaven and his three sons, Gatwa, Gahutu and Gatutsi, provides the background to the feelings and perceptions of self-identity that was source of self-justification in the conflict (Lemarchand, 1999).
As a result of their different responses to a task set by Kigwa, Gatutsi become his successor, and Gahutu became his brother’s servant, while Gatwa was relegated to the status of outsider. This mythical view therefore placed the Tutsi above the Hutu in terms of social and cultures ranking, power and privilege. This in brief and put very simplistically forms the basis for a perceptions of the hierarchical distinctions that constitute the essence of cultural and social identity in the society, and which was to be transformed in the convoluted and complex history of the country into the conduit for social conflict.
This self — conception or perception of identity was subsequently used and distorted by the colonial invasion of the country. This in turn resulted in the view that the Tutsi were the oppressors in the society. The Hutu on the other hand developed a sense of identity which included a view of themselves as liberators of the country from Tutsi oppression — which is another form of self — justification through identity.
As stated, the colonization of the country exacerbated the situation with regard to identity and self-justification. The effects of the colonial involvement and distortion are an area of discourse that is extensive and strictly beyond the ambit and parameters of this paper. Suffice to say that the Hutu sense of identity was used by the colonizers to their advantage and led ultimately to a scenario in which the Hutu sense of inferiority became linked to a perception of their rightful place and leadership of the country, while the superiority of the Tutsi group was transformed into a perception of their illegitimacy as a result of their essential ” foreignness” in the country.
Social Identity Theory
One of the central factors in this conflict is the psychological interpretation as to what drove people to murder their neighbors en masse. This is also linked to the psychological complex that constitutes societal identification and acceptance. What adds a considerable degree of depth and complexity to the issue of interpretation is the fact the society was largely homogeneous and there was a great degree of intermixing and intermarriage between the ethnic groups.
A further complicating aspect that should be borne in mind in any theoretical assessments or analysis is that Rwanda was a country that was largely socially constructed and engineered, as it were, by the process of colonization. This also relates to various ideological aspects that have to be taken into account; such as the fact there was the perception in terms of identity that the Tutsis were innately superior to the Hutu, which was also a central causative factor in the friction that was to result in the horrendous violence that ensued. As referred to, the majority Hutus took to viewing the Tutsis as foreign invaders and not true Rwandans. This psychosocial construct and racist ideology set the stage for hatred and preceded the genocide.
Taking the above variables into account, Social Identity theory is possibly one of the most obvious means of interpreting the events and the inner dimensionality of the conflict that occurred in Rwanda. Social identity theory takes three central psychological variables into account; these are social categorization, social identity, and social comparison or Identification. These components can be related to the Rwandan situation. The aspect of social categorization is related to social identity in the strong group affiliation that created the Hutu and Tutsi group divide. The aspect of social comparison was also clearly part of the problem in the assumption of superiority by the Tutsis.
However, there are certain limitations to this theoretical trajectory that require the additional perspectives that are offered by other theoretical stances. It will suggested throughout this paper as a central focus of discussion that this conflict can only adequately understood in terms of the full range of its causative factors that need to be provided in a more integrative theoretical approach .
The issue and problematics of identity is one of the focal points of debate in terms of the contemporary analysis of conflict and individual and group behavior. As Huddy ( 2001) notes:
Postmodern theorists in the humanities have challenged traditional conceptions of identity by arguing that the fixed subject of liberal humanistic thinking is an anachronism that should be replaced by a more flexible individual whose identity is fluid, contingent, and socially constructed ( Huddy, 2001, p. 127).
The above view also takes into account the relationship between individual behavior and social and group constructs. In essence, Social Identity theory focuses on aspects of intergroup conflict, the conformity to group norms, as well as the issues and outcome of low group status, and the “â€¦conditions under which it generates collective action, and the factors that promote the categorization of oneself and others into groups” ( Huddy 128).
One of the limitations of this theory is the critique that social identity theorists are “â€¦disinclined to examine the sources of social identity in a real world complicated by history and culture” (Huddy 127). However, this theory has application to the present study and the conflict between the two groups in that it describes the ways in which group identity can lead to division on many levels and lead to civil war and genocide.
However, the problematics of using Social Identity theory to explain the events that took place in Rwanda is underscored in an article by Tony waters entitled, Tutsi Social Identity in Contemporary Africa. There author points out that there were few real or substantial social differences between these two groups of people. In fact, he points to the fact that there had been a great deal of intermarriage and intimate levels of association between the Hutus and Tutsi prior to the civil war.
This view therefore tends to problematize the issue of simple identity difference between the two groups as a central causative factor. It consequently opens up other possibilities and theories that need to be investigated. It raises the question as to how the extent of the depth and makeup of the differences between the two groups could have resulted in the horrendous aggression and massacre. In other words, the question that needs to be answered is, how did psycho-social identity differences create such deep rifts in a society that was in fact closely related by intermarriage and years of living closely together. This leads to the conclusion that there are other social and political factors that need to be taken into account in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the events, as well as how they impacted on the meaning of identity. .
Social Dominance and other theories
As noted above, the discussion and analysis of the causative features of this conflict and the concomitant effect of this analysis on possible resolution scenarios is largely dependent of the ability of the particular theoretical model to take into account the many variables of this conflict. In order to achieve a more holistic view of the conflict one has to take into account the fact that the hostility in Rwanda, as in many other regions of the African continent had their origins in “â€¦modern struggles for power and wealth” ( Pottier). As Pottier states in Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century, “The world, however, easily overlooked this modern origin, since the confrontations it witnessed appeared to have taken on strongly ethicized, seemingly ‘tribal’ overtones and justification” ( Pottier). This study goes on to make a valid point that is germane to the present discussion and analysis of the role of identity. This refers or the view that,
The Rwandan 1994 genocide in particularâ€¦ was for too long and at too great a cost portrayed by the media as rooted in tribalism. Rwanda’s bloodbath was not tribal. Rather it was a distinctly modern tragedy, a degenerated class conflict minutely prepared and callously executed ” ( Pottier).
The above quotation also refers to a somewhat different theoretical trajectory which, if followed, would take us beyond the ambit of the present emphasis on the issue of identify. However, what the above quotation clearly emphasizes is that all the aspects and variables in this conflict cannot be comfortably dealt with by social identity theory. If follows therefore that in order to understand the Rwandan conflict in terms of identity one has to search for a more inclusive and comprehensive theoretical framework to ascertain the origin and the roots causes of this genocidal behavior.
This point is made in Social Dominance Theory: Its Agenda and Method by Sidanius et al. (2004). The authors state that that conventional theories and views about identity as a cause of conflict have not been able to explain the widespread nature and ferocity of the conflict in Rwanda and other areas of the world. The reason he gives for this theoretical shortcoming is as follows:
We suggest that part of the reason for this hole in our theoretical understanding is that almost all approaches have focused on some specific psychological or sociological cause of prejudice and discrimination. Rarely have social scientists attempted to understand these problems by exploring the interactions among several levels of analysis — that is, the manner in which psychological, sociostructural, ideological, and institutional forces jointly contribute to the production and reproduction of social oppression
(Sidanius et al. 2004).
The above is an essential and important theoretical viewpoint and one that accords with the present analysis of the Rwandan conflict. In essence this means that the concept of identify should be widened and expanded to include more than just its psychological aspect. If we also take into account the more postmodern and post-structuralist views of identity as an amalgam of social, psychological, cultural historical and political elements, then this view of identity become even more relevant.
Social Dominance theory provides a more integrative perception of the role of identity in conflict. As one critic comments, this theory suggests that “â€¦most forms of group conflict and oppression & #8230;can be regarded as different manifestations of the same basic human predisposition to form group-based social hierarchies” (Maiese). This refers to the sociological concept of social stratification which is clearly seen in the hierarchical structure of Rwandan society. This also leads to a system of subordination and domination of one group by another, in this case the Hutu and Tutsi, who were struggling to maintain or advance their social status. Sidanius et al. ( 2004) takes this theory a step further in suggesting the integration of the individual and social aspects of identity. “Rather than merely asking why people stereotype, why people are prejudiced, why they discriminate, or why they believe the world is just and fair, social dominance theory asks why human societies tend to be organized as group-based hierarchies ( Sidanius et al., 2004).
Other theoretical perspectives
With the emphasis on the search for a more integrated approach to the question of identity and conflict, we will briefly examine some of the other major theories that illuminate the problem of identity and conflict in the Rwandan context. Social Categorization theory is also a theory that explains aspects of this conflict. This refers to the development of prejudice and stereotypical images and perception of the “other,” as a result of forms of prejudicial social categorization. This is obviously applicable in the foundation myth held by the Tutsi group referred to above – that they were immigrant rulers, racially distinct from Hutus, and naturally superior to them. Consequently, ingroup bias and outgroup prejudice were a major aspects in social category-based group differences.
Self-Categorization theory advances social identity theory by asserting that
Self-conception or self — cognition takes place on multiple levels of inclusiveness. Basically this theory is concerned with “â€¦variation in self-categorization”â€¦.and it focuses on ” the distinction between personal and social identity” (Turner). In other words, this theory attempts to investigate how the higher-order processes of group behavior are a result of a change in perception from self-identity to social identity.
This relates to the conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi in a number of ways; for example in the fact that while many of the people in Rwanda who had close personal relationships that crossed ethic boundaries, but that these personal relationships were subsumed by the larger oppositional social categories. This also refers to cognitive factors that promote categorization of oneself as a group member. This relates more specifically to how Tutsi and Hutus defined themselves relative to their groups. The theory helps to explain the fact that conflict was fostered by the perception of stereotypes; such as propaganda that warned Hutu men to beware of Tutsi women. And portrayed Tutsi women as arrogant and looking down on Hutu men whom they considered ugly and inferior..
As Jones ( 2001) notes, “â€¦there were significant obstacles to conflict resolution in Rwandaâ€¦”(Jones, 2001, p. 1). The high levels of hostility, distrust and violence proved to be effective barriers to any attempts to solve the conflict. Another obstacle was the level of rhetoric and ideological misinformation that was created by each side.
One possible solution to a situation like Rwanda would be to separate the groups by force and to establish a neutral or militarily controlled zone. This option stops the conflict but does not solve the problem.
Another more optimal solution can be derived from the above theoretical analysis. One of the most obvious resolution scenarios for an intense conflict can be derived from both psychological and social theories of identity. This solution suggests that as the conflict is based on an intense view of separate identity. Therefore, if a new unified identity that includes the aspirations of both groups can be developed, then this should resolve the conflict. In other words, as the violence and aggression is based on division and differentiation in terms of identity, then efforts to reshape these perceptions of difference through mediation and reconstruction would lead to a situation where the perceived stereotypes and false ideologies of one group by another would be replaced by a more accommodating and realistic view of commonalities rather than differences. Of course this is an idealistic view and one would have to take into account the fact that identity is also influenced and shaped by factors such politics and power.
The conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi involves a complex array of factors and variables. Central to this conflict is the concept of identity and difference between the two different groups. However, as has been suggested in the above analysis of critical theory, the meaning of identity is multivalent and composed of many aspects and layers of influence.
The various theories of conflict and identity provide different vantage points and perceptions; from the psycho-social dimension in Social Identity theory to the understanding of the construction group identity in Social Dominance theory. Each provides insight and part of the answer. But in order to understand the way that identity functions as a causative factor in conflict one has to adopt a more holistic and integrative approach which includes the social and psychological dimensions as well as political, cultural and historical aspects. All of these elements add to the makeup and constitution of individual and group identity.
Bigagaza J. et al. Land Scarcity, Distribution and Conflict in Rwanda. Retrieved from http://www.iss.co.za/PUBS/BOOKS/Scarcity+Surfeit/Chapter2.pdf.
Bird C. ( 2004) Status, Identity, and Respect. Political Theory, 32 ( 2).
Huddy L. ( 2001) From Social to Political Identity: A Critical Examination of Social Identity Theory. Political Psychology, 22 ( 1).
Identification. Retrieved from http://www.thefederationonline.org/events/Briefings/2006_SPSP_DHS/SPSP_Moreland_Sum.pdf
Jones, B.D. (2001). Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Lemarchand, Renee (1999) Ethnicity as Myth: The View from Central Africa. University of Copenhagen: Center for African Studies.
M. ( 2004) Social Status. Retrieved from http://crinfo.beyondintractability.org/essay/social_status/?nid=1042
Moise Jean ( 2007) “The Rwandan Genocide: The True Motivations for Mass Killings.”
Emory Endeavors in World History 1.1 (2007): 9
Pottier, J. (2002). Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Reicher S. ( 2004) The Context of Social Identity: Domination, Resistance, and Change
Political Psychology, 25( 6).
Sidanius et al. ( 2004) Social Dominance Theory: Its Agenda and Method. Political Psychology, 25 (6).
Turner J. Self-categorization theory. Retrieved from http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/tocnode?id=g9780631202899_chunk_g978063120289921_ss1-6
Waters T. ( 1995) Tutsi Social Identity in Contemporary Africa.
The Journal of modern African studies, 33 ( 2) .
Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?
- Plagiarism free papers
- Timely delivery
- Any deadline
- Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
- Subject-relevant academic writer
- Adherence to paper instructions
- Ability to tackle bulk assignments
- Reasonable prices
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Get superb grades consistently
Online Academic Help With Different Subjects
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
What discipline/subjects do you deal in?
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
What if I don’t like the paper?
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
- When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
- We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.
In the event that you don’t like your paper:
- The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
- We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
- Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.
Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
What if the paper is plagiarized?
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
When will I get my paper?
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
Will anyone find out that I used your services?
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
How our Assignment Help Service Works
1. Place an order
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
2. Pay for the order
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
3. Track the progress
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
4. Download the paper
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!