Formation and Persistence of Oppositional Identities

62 Pages Posted: 19 May 2011

See all articles by Alberto Bisin

Alberto Bisin

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics; New York University (NYU) - Center for Experimental Social Science (CESS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eleonora Patacchini

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Thierry Verdier

Paris School of Economics (PSE); Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Yves Zenou

Monash University - Department of Economics; Stockholm University; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: May 2011

Abstract

We develop a dynamic model of identity formation that explains why ethnic minorities may choose to adopt oppositional identities (i.e. some individuals may reject or not the dominant culture) and why this behavior may persist over time. We first show that the prevalence of an oppositional culture in the minority group cannot always be sustained in equilibrium. Indeed, because the size of the majority group is larger, there is an "imposed" process of exposition to role models from the majority group that favors the diffusion of mainstream values in the minority community. In spite of this, an oppositional culture in the minority group can nevertheless be sustained in steady-state if there is enough cultural segmentation in terms of role models, or if the size of the minority group is large enough, or if the degree of oppositional identity it implies is high enough. We also demonstrate that the higher the level of harassment and the number of racist individuals in the society, the more likely an oppositional minority culture will emerge. We finally show that ethnic identity and socialization effort can be more intense in mixed rather than segregated neighborhoods.

Keywords: cultural transmission, Ethnicity, peer effects, racism, role models

JEL Classification: A14, J15

Suggested Citation

Bisin, Alberto and Patacchini, Eleonora and Verdier, Thierry and Zenou, Yves, Formation and Persistence of Oppositional Identities (May 2011). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8380, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1846262

Alberto Bisin (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

14 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

New York University (NYU) - Center for Experimental Social Science (CESS) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Eleonora Patacchini

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ( email )

Via Due Macelli, 73
Rome, 00187
Italy

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Thierry Verdier

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014
France

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) - Department of Economics ( email )

Rua Marques de Sao Vicente, 225/206F
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22453
Brazil

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Yves Zenou

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Australia

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI) ( email )

P.O. Box 5501
S-114 85 Stockholm
Sweden

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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