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By Alfio Cerami (auth.)

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The presence of important natural resources, as seen in oil- or diamond-rich countries, could also be included in the list of potentially influencing factors. In this case it is not the fight for daily survival but battles for the acquisition of the country’s main state assets that cause conflict (Bach and Gazibo 2011). In the course of this book it will be argued that it is not the presence of ethnic or religious diversity that produces the emergence of social and ethnic conflicts but the synergy of four different elements.

Individuals and institutional actors may be moved by reasons associated with their daily survival, or with their will and need to diminish their situation of relative deprivation. Individuals and institutional actors may, however, also be motivated by reasons associated with conflicts in the acquisition of power and economic profit brought by the access to the immense natural resources that most countries possess. By acting, individuals can improve their relative position of wealth and power base at the expense of other individuals and social groups.

Some methodological notes: The mechanism-based explanation method As mentioned, this book adopts a novel investigative approach: the mechanisms-based explanation method. Following Peter Hedström (2008), the explanatory power of a mechanism-based approach lies in the explanation of an event giving account of why it happened, not only by citing earlier events but also by providing (or suggesting) causal mechanisms. For Jon Elster (1998), the mechanism explains by opening ‘the black box’ and showing the ‘cogs and wheels’ of the internal machinery.

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