Understanding the Variable Dispositions to ‘Friendly Violence’ during Interethnic Conflict: Evidence from Nigeria

30 August 2021, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


The variable conflict behaviours of everyday people living in proximity, without formal militia affiliations, have been under-researched. Yet, qualitative inferences on the individual-level dynamics accounting for the variable dispositions among neighbours are significant as they broaden our understanding of when friends may or may not attack their outgroup neighbours during interethnic strife. Therefore, this paper examines this issue drawing on extensive qualitative data on everyday people’s conflict-time experiences of intergroup relations in Nigeria’s ethnic conflict hotbed, Jos. The analysis indicates that not only did past friendships motivate information sharing between ingroup and outgroup members who sought to protect their friends, it also facilitated the conflict as other ingroup members exploited past friendships to advance their killing objectives or to furnish their ethnic armies with intel on their outgroup friends. It concludes that the central mechanism explaining cooperative or aggressive dispositions is the degree of threat perception among everyday people.


Intergroup relations
ethnic conflict
perceived threat
social network


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