Explaining nationalist violence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

30 Scopus citations


Nationalism often involves risky and violent action. This has led many scholars to believe that its roots must be irrational. This attribution is ambiguous, however, because it fails to distinguish between two quite different meanings of the term "irrational'. In principle, nationalism can emanate either from social or from individual irrationality. Only the latter kind of irrationality is theoretically provocative, however. The hallmark of rational individual action lies in its instrumentality. Whereas many aspects of nationalism have been analysed successfully using instrumental behavioral assumptions, nationalist violence has been a significant exception. This article offers a framework for the explanation of nationalist violence in instrumental terms. It concludes by suggesting that the temptation to view nationalism as an outcome of individual irrationality should be resisted. -Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNations & Nationalism
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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