Special focus is placed in this paper on ethnic conflicts, whether domestic or international.
Culture, as defined in this paper, may be a significant or insignificant influence in any conflict, being closely associated with the notion of identity.
Despite the importance of a person's individual identity, culture is commonly regarded as a group phenomenon.
Culture is not considered a significant variable, and so no distinction is made between ethnic and other conflicts.Huntington argues that culture will be the main cause of future conflict, and that cultural differences are less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic matters, especially when religion is involved (Huntington, 19,27).One popular view formerly associated Western societies with left brain scientific, analytical and rational thinking processes, and the non-western world with right brain, synthetic, emotional and intuitive thinking processes (Mintzberg, 19). "Cultural Orientations of Arguments in International Disputes - Negotiating the Law of the Sea." In Felipe Korzenny and Stella Ting-Toomey, eds., Communicating for Peace, Diplomacy and Negotiation. Individualists stress attributes such as being logical and balanced, whereas other cultures, for example, the African, value qualities such as a person's spontaneity, unpredictability, unique movements and uninhibited self-expression (Triandis, 19). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, pp.41- 130. Gurr points out that the greater the competition and inequalities between groups in heterogeneous societies, the greater will be both the salience of ethnic identities, and the prospect of overt violence.
In other words, cultural distinctions add an extra sharper dimension that increases divisiveness and the intensity of conflict.As an example, all but 5 of the 23 wars in 1994 were based on communal rivalries (Gurr, 198,350,355).Table 2 illustrates an unevenly upward trend in the number of ethnopolitical conflicts since 1970.Stress is placed in this study on the deeper aspects of culture, values, beliefs, norms, which influence perceptions, assumptions, attitudes, and eventually behavior and traditional practices.Culture is understood for our purposes as the "collective programming of the mind" (Hofstede, 1991:5) or as an expression of all the experiences of a particular people or group over time which help shape their personality and manner of perceiving.In general he also explores basic differences between high context (usually polychronic, collectivist societies) and low context (usually monochronic, individualist societies).