Exclusion and Cooperation in Diverse Societies: Experimental Evidence from Israel

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Authors Ryan Enos, Noam Gidron
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Paper Abstract It is well-established that in diverse societies, certain groups prefer to exclude other groups from power and often from society entirely. Yet as many Western societies are diversifying at an increasingly rapid pace, the need for cross-group cooperation to solve collective action problems has intensified. Do preferences for exclusion inhibit the ability for individuals to cooperate and, therefore, diminish the ability for societies to collectively provide public goods? Some scholarship suggests this may not be the case, since preferences are often not diagnostic of behavior. Turning to Israel, a society with multiple overlapping and politically salient cleavages, we use a large-scale lab-in-the-field design to investigate how much preferences for exclusion among the Jewish majority predict discriminatory behavior toward the Arab minority. We establish that such preferences appear to be symbolic attitudes, are held especially strongly by low-status members of the majority group, and are strongly predictive of costly noncooperation. This preferences-behaviors relationship appears unaffected by mitigating factors proposed in the intergroup relations literature such as outgroup stereotypes and repeated interactions. The influence of symbolic attitudes on directly observed behavior, which has not been empirically demonstrated before, calls for a closer examination of the social roots of exclusionary preferences. ∗Both authors contributed equally. Support for this research was provided by the Harvard Center for Jewish Studies, the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University. A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2017 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting. We thank Stanley Feldman for comments. †Department of Government, Harvard University, renos@gov.harvard.edu ‡Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University, gidron@fas.harvard.edu
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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