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Disaggregating actors in intranational conflict


  • Stephen M. Shellman

    () (Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations, College of William & Mary)

  • Clare Hatfield

    (Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia)

  • Maggie J. Mills

    (Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia)


While some of the intrastate war literature calls for the disaggregation of civil conflict, most of those studies focus on the geography of civil conflict failing to take into account the various actors involved in such conflicts. This study addresses the multi-actor nature of civil conflict by examining whether 'actor aggregation' affects the inferences drawn from quantitative studies of civil conflict. Using two cases, Cambodia (1980-2004) and Indonesia (1980-2004), the authors examine how multiple dissident groups' behavior aggregated together can affect the inferences drawn from quantitative studies of government-dissident interactions. The results demonstrate that researchers may draw different inferences and commit both Type I and Type II errors using different actor aggregations. The results have myriad implications for the study of civil conflict and conflict processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen M. Shellman & Clare Hatfield & Maggie J. Mills, 2010. "Disaggregating actors in intranational conflict," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(1), pages 83-90, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:83-90

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