World Politics

Research Article

Stability in Deeply Divided Societies: Consociationalism versus Control

Ian Lusticka1

a1 Dartmouth College


This paper examines the consociational approach to the study of deeply divided societies and notes its weaknesses. It argues that the absence of a well-developed alternative “control” approach to the explanation of stability in deeply divided societies has resulted in the empirical overextension of consociational models. Control models, focusing on how superordinate groups manipulate subordinate groups rather than on the emergence and functioning of elite cartels, need to be developed—not only for the study of stable, deeply divided societies in which consociational models are inappropriate, but also as a means of eliminating certain theoretical problems that have been raised as criticisms of consociationalism. The paper includes a critical review of the literature that is available to guide study of control in deeply divided societies, and concludes with recommendations for the shape of an analytical framework within systematic comparison.

Ian Lustick is Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, and the author of Arabs in the Jewish State: A Study in the Control of a Minority Population (forthcoming). He is currently working on a critique of rational-man organization theory based on a structural analysis of task environments.