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Faultlines

Groups have faultlines when group members' personal characteristics align with one another, so that distinct, unique subgroups are recognizable within the larger group. These alignments provide the basis for conflict, especially between the subgroups, and especially when issues arise that are related to the subgroups' differences. This entry provides a specific definition of group faultlines, a variety of examples and implications of these faultlines, and some recent research findings.

Defining the Concept

The concept of group faultlines uses a geological metaphor: The surface of the earth is covered by layers of rocks, huge rocks. Among, between, and beneath the layers are faults, that is, fractures within the earth's crust. As long as things are calm and external forces don't appear, faults can be dormant for many ...

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