Ethnic Group Conflict

Essay by dollyg July 2010

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Ethnic Group Conflict Paper

Since the late 1940's almost continual fighting in the Middle East has brought with it challenges to family structure, education, and human rights (Huntington, Fronk & Chadwick, 2001). The 1967 occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, the Palestinian intifada uprising of the 1980s, and the refugee status of some Palestinian citizens only acted to further exacerbate the social, cultural, and economic situation in the Middle East. Despite the forces of modernization that were put into play in the Middle East-through the avenues of expanded television, internet, and communications-social forces acting counter to these have brought greater inequality, educational obstacles, and economic disparity (Herzog, 1998). The causal explanation behind this movement towards greater violence and disparity is rooted in the complex interplay between the forces of social conformity, social perception, and social cognition that exist within the cultural frameworks of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. The problem is far too complicated to propose a single, eclectic rationalization of all the factors involved; however, the examination of two very narrow topics can help to shed light on the conflict, in general.

In particular, the subject of how social conformity and modernization interact to influence gender roles in the family environment and how social perception and social cognition effect the educational practices of Middle East teachers can give a window into the complex situation in the Middle East.

Social Conformity and Modernization

Shiraev & Levy (2010) define conformity as, "…a form of social influence in which individuals change their attitudes and/or behavior to adhere to a group or social norm" (p. 283). Some reasons for social conformity might include fear of sanctions from the majority or the need to measure up to the expectations of the majority. In the case of Middle East social pressures, both Jewish and Muslim...