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Rivalry and Revenge: Making Sense of Violence against Civilians in Conventional Civil Wars

Author

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  • Laia Balcells

    () (Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica)

Abstract

Recent research on violence against civilians during wars has emphasized war-related factors over political ones. For example, factors such as control of territory or characteristics of the armed groups have been prioritized at the expense of factors such as ideological alignments or local political competition. In this paper, I argue that the emphasis on war-related factors is conditioned by the scope conditions of previous theories, which have focused on irregular civil wars. I switch the locus of attention to socalled conventional civil wars, and I introduce a theoretical framework that takes into account both political and war-related factors. Hypotheses are tested using data on 1,377 municipalities during the Spanish Civil War. I find that levels of prewar electoral competition explain variation in levels of direct violence from both the left and the right in the areas they controlled at the beginning of the war, but that war-related factors gain explanatory relevance after the onset of conflict, when control changes from one group to the other. In particular, there is a clear endogenous trend whereby subsequent levels of violence are highly correlated with initial levels of violence. I argue that the mechanism behind this is civilian collaboration with armed groups. In short, the paper demonstrates that an understanding of the determinants of violence requires a theory combining political cleavages and wartime dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Laia Balcells, 2008. "Rivalry and Revenge: Making Sense of Violence against Civilians in Conventional Civil Wars," HiCN Working Papers 51, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:51
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jean-Paul Azam & Anke Hoeffler, 2002. "Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars: Looting or Terror?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 39(4), pages 461-485, July.
    2. Robert H. Bates, 1999. "Ethnicity, Capital Formation, and Conflict," CID Working Papers 27, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Savage David A., 2016. "Surviving the Storm: Behavioural Economics in the Conflict Environment," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(2), pages 105-129, April.
    2. Anderton Charles H. & Carter John R., 2015. "A New Look at Weak State Conditions and Genocide Risk," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 21(1), pages 1-36, January.
    3. Laia Balcells & Lesley-Ann Daniels & Abel Escribà-Folch, 2014. "The determinants of low-intensity intergroup violence. The case of Northern Ireland," HiCN Working Papers 190, Households in Conflict Network.
    4. Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero, 2012. "An Inquiry into the Use of Illegal Electoral Practices and Effects of Political Violence," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-16, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    5. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:440-448 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Yuri M. Zhukov, 2014. "Theory of Indiscriminate Violence," Working Paper 365551, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    7. Laia Balcells & Abbey Steele, 2012. "Warfare, Political Identities, and Displacement in Spain and Colombia," HiCN Working Papers 124, Households in Conflict Network.
    8. Oliver Vanden Eynde, 2015. "Targets of violence: evidence from India's Naxalite conflict," PSE Working Papers halshs-01202689, HAL.
    9. Castañeda Dower, Paul & Ginsburgh, Victor & Weber, Shlomo, 2017. "Colonial legacy, polarization and linguistic disenfranchisement: The case of the Sri Lankan War," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 440-448.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Civil war; violence; war dynamics; civilians; political competition; Spain;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-

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