Beginning with the definition of key terms and concepts of international relations- based on the relationships between the world’s religions, ethnicity, nationalism, individual and social identity, the perception of threat, power, and national security- I develop a new theoretical approach that provides a synthesis of prior explanations for ethnic conflict and state security. I then test the expectations of this approach on the religious plurality and military expenditures of states for all dyad years from 1960 to 2005. I find strong support for its predictions based on shared religious plurality, the perception of threat, and the directed and joint military expenditures of states. Further, the findings provide insights into the effects of shared religious plurality among sender and target states, as well as the effects of alliance formation, the balance of power, economic interdependence, joint democracy, and interdependence. Thus, this independent study distinguishes the relative importance of both religion as a determining characteristic and pattern of ethnicity, and military expenditure as an explanatory factor of state security, and therefore has broadly interesting implications for the study of international relations.


Bowling, Jeremy

Second Advisor

Kille, Kent


International Relations; Political Science


Anthropology | Arts and Humanities | Comparative Politics | International and Area Studies | International Relations | Political Science | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Psychology | Sociology | Sociology of Religion

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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