Microfoundations of Civil Conflict Reconciliation: Ethnicity and Context

Comparative work on reconstruction and peace building in war-torn countries is dominated by a macro-oriented approach, focusing on structural political reforms, legal issues, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of (rebel) soldiers, and repatriation of the displaced. This article offers a different perspective, examining micro-level determinants of reconciliation. Earlier research indicates that political attitudes in post–ethnic conflict societies are shaped by ethnic affinity. A large literature on the importance of contextual conditions for human behavior would suggest that ethnic composition of the local population and physical proximity to the conflict zone also should affect individual support for peace and reconciliation. To test these propositions, we draw on a geo-referenced survey of the Macedonian population that measures respondents’ perception of the 2001 civil conflict. Contrary to expectations, the spatial and demographic setting exerts only feeble impacts on individuals’ support for the Framework Agreement. Several years after the conflict was settled, the survey data reveal a strongly divided Macedonian society where ethnicity trumps all other individual and contextual factors in explaining the respondents’ preferences.