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Anti-foreigner riots in eastern Germany in the early 1990s have usually been explained by ethnonationalism or racism, ethnic competition for scarce resources, and opportunistic political elites. If anti-minority riots are analyzed as a distinct phenomenon with a cross-sectional approach, local political processes emerge as more important causes. Cultural conflicts, the channeling of mobilization from nonviolent into violent forms, local political opportunities for success, and mobilization by social movement organizations convert ethnic conflict and violence into riots. A comparison of riot and non-riot localities in eastern Germany supports this argument.



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