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Cultural Leaders and the Clash of Civilizations


Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published online on


This article builds a microfounded model of cultural conflict. In this model, intrinsically motivated cultural leaders supply and interpret culture. Leaders have an incentive to amplify disagreement about cultural values. This leads to a clash of perspectives between cultures. The population benefits from the supply of culture but suffers if leaders amplify the clash of perspectives. The article discusses constraints to leader behavior and analyzes how economic factors affect the incentives of cultural leaders. Economic strength can lead to displays of cultural arrogance while economic integration between groups can hinder cultural alienation.