Civil War


Concept of Civil War

-         “multiple sovereignty”: control of sovereign polity contested by competing factions (Tilly)

-         often but not exclusively establish state elite facing challenge to its rule

-         violent, organized resistance to existing state or quasi-state

o      may involve armed forces of other states

-         various goals of actors

o      total control of state apparatus

o      secession from territorial state

o      autonomy within territorial state


Are civil wars more severe or prevalent since end of Cold War?

-         Conventional wisdom: yes

-         Fearon & Laitin and Kalyvas: no




Motivations Behind Civil Wars (Kalyvas)

-         ideologies to mobilize combatants and supporters exist but they reflect organizational core of members

o       local grievances and social ties matter

o       ideological commitments often emerge after joining fighters, not before

-         people may act rationally: e.g., join rebels if food and housing is better supplied by them




Civil Wars and Weak States (Fearon & Laitin, 2003)


-         degree of ethnic diversity fails to explain on-set of civil wars

o       ethnic divisions are common

o       civil wars are infrequent





-         feature associated with weak states – low autonomy and capacity – better explain on-set of civil war

o       poor state (GDP/captia)

o       populous

o       rough geography – transportation & communication is difficult

o       oil export dependency – “rentier state”

o       new state – weak institutionalization

o       instability of political institutions

-         How to prevent civil wars?

o       Build stronger states, but…

o       Promote economic development

o       Assist in political development (stable institutions)