The Transformation of Ethnic Conflict and Identity in Syria




Salm, Randall A.

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This dissertation analyzes the transformation and social reproduction of ethnic and religious identity for five Syrian ethnic groups, Sunni Arabs, Alawites, Kurds, Christians and Druze. The study used mixed methods for data collection, including 26 in-depth surveys and 127 surveys of Syrian humanitarian workers living in Turkey conducted in 2015 and 2016. Key findings include commonalities found across all five groups, such as language, names, family, gender inequality, marriage norms, honor, ethnic group salience and segregation, mistrust and fear of other groups, social stratification, and geographical barriers. Unique distinctions for each group are also examined, along with religious features. The two main findings are that ethnic identification depends considerably on opposition to or support for the Assad regime, and minority group fears of Sunni conservatives and extremists. Two theoretical models are developed demonstrating ethnic identity formation under threats of violence and group extermination, and ethnic identity dynamics for the five Syrian groups in this study.



Sociology, Ethnic studies, Islamic studies, Arab Uprising, Armed conflict, Ethnic identity, Ethnic relations, Identity, Syria