Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)


International Conflict Management

First Advisor

Dr. Brandon Lundy

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeff DeWitt

Third Advisor

Dr. Debarati Sen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Mari Fitzduff


Despite the formal abolishment of the discriminative caste system in Nepal in 1963, caste still influences social, economic, and political sectors of Hindu society. Indicators and existing research suggest that caste-based discrimination remains one of the major sources of unrest in a Hindu majority nation such as Nepal. Questions remain, however, about the media‘s role in caste-based identity conflict. This dissertation seeks to answer the question: How do various print media outlets (i.e., public vs. private) depict Pahadi identity-based conflicts in contemporary Nepal? In this study, I employed focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with Nepalese opinion leaders. Further, I conducted content analyses of national newspapers in order to examine caste identity conflict and media coverage in contemporary Nepal, specifically among the Pahadi community. Results indicate that private print media correlates with reported events-based data on caste-based identity conflict to a higher degree than public print media. Opinion leaders‘ views were partly influenced by print media, which helped shape and reshape their opinions on caste identity conflicts in complex ways. Ultimately, this study found that both the private and public media outlets seem to help manage caste-based identity conflicts more than aggravate them, although variability between media outlets is expected. The media can play a role as a "voice of reason" or as a facilitator when identity-based conflict obstructs the process of reconciliation and cultural harmony; whereas its ability to influence more embedded cultural practices such as the non-acceptance of inter-caste marriages seems to be less successful in the Nepalese context. This study suggests that the media can play a significant role in creating social harmony by helping manage identity conflict. Keywords: caste-based identity conflict, print media, mass communication theory, Nepal, newspapers, opinion leaders, Pahadi community