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Territorial Threat, Mobilization, and Political Participation in Africa


  • Marc L. Hutchison

    (University of Rhode Island)


The link between territorial issues and incidents of militarized conflict is one of the most consistent patterns found in the empirical study of international relations. Consequently, disputes over territory are generally perceived to be more salient to state decision-makers than other types of issues. Given this relative issue salience, state elites are thought to be more likely to engage in domestic mobilization efforts when territory is externally threatened. The political participation literature observes wide cross-national differences in participatory behavior and contends that the level and timing of participation is partially a function of elite-led strategic mobilization. I propose that these phenomena are connected and that territorial threats are associated with overall patterns in non-voting political participation across countries. I assess this relationship with cross-national, multilevel models using 27 Afrobarometer surveys collected in 16 different countries from 1999 to 2003. As expected, if salient external threats are triggering domestic mobilization efforts, I find that territorial threats are positively associated with most forms of non-voting political participation. However, I also observe lower levels of protest behavior in states that recently experienced a territorial threat—a finding that corresponds with previous research linking salient external threats to increased societal cohesion.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc L. Hutchison, 2011. "Territorial Threat, Mobilization, and Political Participation in Africa," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 28(3), pages 183-208, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:28:y:2011:i:3:p:183-208

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