Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict

Mass mobilization

Although ethnic violence and terrorism are committed by a tiny minority of individuals, the perpetrators depend upon a much larger group of sympathizers and supporters for their cause or grievance. What moves a mass public to support for political and social action around ethnic identity? One mechanism of mobilization currently under study by Asch investigators is martyrdom: How does a particular death come to be accepted as a group sacrifice, and how does this sacrifice move others toward sacrifice?  Another mechanism is “essentializing” an ethnic group: coming to see the enemy as having an evil nature or spirit that is inherited and indelible.  Asch-related researchers are trying to learn how this perception is encouraged, and how it can be discouraged.   Most recently, as described below, Asch researchers have recognized the major role of visual culture in drawing ethnic boundaries and increasing the political cohesion of ethnic groups.