Can regime change improve ethnic relations? Perception of ethnic minorities after the 2021 coup in Myanmar

Roman DAVID*, Aung Kaung MYAT, Ian HOLLIDAY

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Regime change often exacerbates ethnic conflict. This article examines the curious case of Myanmar, where a 2021 military coup was met, on the surface, with broad-based resistance across a divided society. An important question that therefore arises is whether, below the surface, this unity also took a more positive form of national solidarity. Were deep ethnic cleavages intensified or alleviated by the 2021 coup? This question bears theoretical relevance for the study of ethnic conflict and has social relevance for a nation marked by a long history of civil war and a recent experience of genocide against Rohingya Muslims. The article engages in a systematic examination of 180 social media posts uploaded in Burmese by key opinion leaders both before and after the coup. A qualitative analysis of major positive and negative themes indicates a shift in attitudes. The quantitative analysis shows that ethnic relations, measured by a change in themes, ratings and virality, improved significantly in the immediate aftermath of Myanmar's 2021 coup.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-104
Number of pages16
JournalJapanese Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
Early online date16 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for incisive and constructive reviewer feedback. They acknowledge Hong Kong Research Grants Council funding (project number LU340613), which fed into this project.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Ethnic minorities
  • ethnic relations
  • Facebook
  • military coup
  • Myanmar
  • nationalism
  • Rohingya
  • social media
  • Key words Ethnic minorities


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