ERIC Number: ED368999
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
Origins of Ethnic Strife.
Firestone, Robert W.
Group identification is a major cause of religious, racial, and international conflict. Many forms of group identification are fantasy bonds, imagined connections with others offering security at the expense of individual self-realization. The fantasy bond forms in childhood in response to inadequate parenting. Human beings are not inherently aggressive, but interpersonal tension in families leads to hostile and defensive behaviors first acted out on family members and later extended to outsiders. These bonds become reinforced as the child becomes aware of death's inevitability. Social systems represent a pooling and projection of individual defense mechanisms into a cultural framework as mores, traditions, and secular religious beliefs. These traditions and beliefs become imaginary survival mechanisms for the individual, a way to deny death's finality. Since they represent immortality, these world views are strongly defended by their adherents, who feel threatened by groups with other beliefs, and will fight to defend their point of view. The outgroup is seen as peculiar, impure, or evil. Outbreaks of violence will continue to be a problem until destructive child-rearing practices and social processes fostering aggression change, and death is accepted as the natural end of life. (Contains 109 references.) (CC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Marietta Coll., OH.