The unit of analysis in almost all large-N studies on conflict contagion and diffusion is collective actors, such as states and ethnic groups or movements. Thus, contagion dynamics and processes at the individual level have been neglected. Using original data derived from a public opinion survey, this study examines the micro-level dynamics of contagion in the context of Turkey’s Kurdish conflict. The study suggests that transnational ethnic ties, and in particular, cross-border familial bonds and interactions, facilitate conflict contagion through several strategic and ideational mechanisms. First, transborder familial ties and interactions amplify the demonstration effect of ethnic-kin achievements in contiguous conflict countries. Second, cross-border familial bonds facilitate collaboration between cross-border co-ethnics. Finally, such ties to conflict zones with ethnic kin groups empower pan-ethnic identities. The empirical findings show that Kurds living in Turkey who have close relatives in nearby countries hosting conflicting ethnic-kin groups (i.e. Syria, Iraq, and Iran) have stronger ethnonationalist orientations and claims against the center. However, having close relatives elsewhere (e.g. Europe) does not generate the same impact. The Kurdish case evidences that contagion processes and dynamics might vary substantially across the members of a particular ethnic group. Hence, it is necessary to broaden the conventional focus on collective actors in conflict contagion research and pay greater attention to micro-level variables and factors.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.