Words and Deeds: From Incompatibilities to Outcomes in Anti-Government Disputes

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Cunningham, David; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch; Belen Gonzalez; Dragana Vidovic & Peter B. White (2017) Words and Deeds: From Incompatibilities to Outcomes in Anti-Government Disputes, Journal of Peace Research 54(4): 468–483.
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​Dissidents can choose among different tactics to redress political grievances, yet violent and nonviolent mobilization tend to be studied in isolation. We examine why some countries see the emergence of organized dissident activity over governmental claims, and why in some cases these organizational claims result in civil wars or nonviolent campaigns, while others see no large-scale collective action. We develop a two-stage theoretical framework examining the organized articulation of political grievance and then large-scale violent and nonviolent collective action. We test implications of this framework using new data on governmental incompatibilities in a random sample of 101 states from 1960 to 2012. We show that factors such as demography, economic development, and civil society have differential effects on these different stages and outcomes of mobilization. We demonstrate that the common finding that anocracies are more prone to civil war primarily stems from such regimes being more prone to see maximalist political demands that could lead to violent mobilization, depending on other factors conducive to creating focused military capacity. We find that non-democracy generally promotes nonviolent campaigns as anocracies and autocracies are both more likely to experience claims and more prone to nonviolent campaigns, conditional on claims.

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