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Alternatives in Mobilization: Ethnicity, Religion, and Political Conflict, Jóhanna Kristín Birnir and Nil Seda Satana

Reviewed by Nathan Tarr
 

One of the most important puzzles in the study of ethnic mobilization is how identities are activated successfully, leading to group mobilization and the ability to contest the status quo. In Alternatives in Mobilization, the authors seek to answer the question of how intersectional identity cleavages encourage minority group mobilization of specific ideologies and identities. They provide a multifaceted theoretic framework to describe both group behavior and how we see contentious politics with varying identities of relevance, depending on the framing. The authors contend that, while this book is focused on contentious identity politics on primarily ethnic and religious grounds, the theory laid out within can be applied broadly to divisions across societies of any type.

In an extension of Selectorate Theory, the authors argue that majority groups organize a minimum winning coalition (MWC), and groups left out of that coalition are thereby encouraged to redefine the identities of relevance to build a challenger’s winning coalition (CWC). Large minority groups seek to build coalitions by priming identities they share with other groups that may serve as potential allies in their attempt to build a CWC.

The authors use a mixed-methods approach that pairs a quantitative analysis using an extension of the All Minorities At Risk dataset with

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