Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/161551
Authors: 
McDoom, Omar Shahabudin
Year of Publication: 
2016
Series/Report no.: 
WIDER Working Paper 2016/167
Abstract: 
Although several theories of interethnic conflict emphasize ties across group boundaries as conducive to ethnic coexistence, little is known about how such ties are formed. Given their integrative potential, I examine the establishment of cross-ethnic marital ties in a deeply divided society and ask what drives individuals to defy powerful social norms and sanctions and to choose life-partners from across the divide. I theorize such choices as the outcome of a struggle between social forces and individual autonomy in society. I identify two channels through which social forces weaken and individual autonomy increases to allow ethnic group members to establish ties independently of group pressures: elite autonomy and status equalization. I find, first, that as an individual's educational status increases, and second, as between-group inequality declines, individuals enjoy greater freedom in the choice of their social ties. However, I also find that in an ethnically ranked society this enhanced autonomy is exercised by members of high-ranked and low-ranked groups differently. Members from high-ranked groups become more likely to inmarry; low-ranked group members to outmarry. I suggest a status-optimization logic lies behind this divergent behaviour. Ethnic elites from high-ranked groups cannot improve their status through outmarriage and their coethnics, threatened by the rising status of the lower-ranked group, seek to maintain the distinctiveness of their status superiority through inmarriage. In contrast, as their own individual status or their group's relative status improves, members of low-ranked groups take advantage of the opportunity to upmarry into the higher-ranked group. I establish these findings in the context of Mindanao, a conflict-affected society in the Philippines, using a combination of census micro-data on over two million marriages and in-depth interview data with inmarried and outmarried couples.
Subjects: 
horizontal inequality
ethnic conflict
social status
ranked groups
intermarriage
Philippines
JEL: 
D74
Z13
I24
ISBN: 
978-92-9256-211-3
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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