The Bosnian Civil War: Can factors that contributed to the war still be found in the values of public opinion?

Led by Elin Solem
Jan 2007 – Jun 2007
The main research question in this thesis is: Can factors that contributed to the war still be found in the values of  public opinion? Theories explaining the reason for civil war will be used to clarify why war erupted in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992.  Important factors were: The dissolution of the Yugoslavian state, the authoritarian government, economic crisis, and strong social cleavages. The transformations created rising nationalistic and ethnic tensions which became too much to handle for the complex republic. Theories about conflict solutions will also be used to investigate values related to the Dayton agreement and how these were implemented in public thinking. The data are from the South-East European Social Survey Program (SEESSP) collected in 2003. My aim is to analyze the values in public opinion eight years after the peace agreement. This thesis will give an insight into how the population of Bosnia thinks about the factors that contributed to the war today, how they feel about the changes that were made, and if there is a general fear among the three dominant nationalities that war might erupt again. If the Dayton Agreement has succeeded in creating a stable and peaceful civil society, it will not only be significant for the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina but also for the future of Southeast Europe.
In 1995 an almost four year long war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was ended by the signing of the Dayton Agreement. This was only one of the armed conflicts in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It has been described as the worst war in European history after WW2; at some points fighting were going on between all three dominant nationalities against each other, at one point groups of Muslims even fought each other, and two factions even fought alongside each other in one town while fighting against each other in another town. The population went from having a long history as friendly neighbours to being trapped in a violent war against each other. Political crisis, economical problems, increased nationalistic tension and incidents in the rest of Yugoslavia can bee seen as having contributed to the onset of war. The problems and the conflict were in 1995 tried solved by the Dayton agreement and international presence. It has now been twelve years since the war ended and studying the values of the public opinion is one way of looking into the situation in Bosnia today. Positive values on factors that contributed to the war and the domestic changes made after the conflict increases the possibility for a lasting stability and peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


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