Body and Soul: Governmental and Communal Attributes of State Vulnerability to Violent Civil Strife

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The study presents an integrated model which places the link between the competing state-centric and sub-state explanations of civil strife. As state's capacity and communal fractionalization are typically tested in separate models, the combined framework aims to examine the premise of this article, that communal attributes affect the extent to which state capacity matters in preserving peace and security. The empirical analysis includes 1,385 instances of intrastate conflicts that occurred in 116 countries between 1995 and 2006, drawn from the Major Episodes of Political Violence and the Intra-State War datasets. The results of the study indicate that indeed the weakness of the body is substituted by the strength of the soul: the decline in state authority makes a larger room to sub-state groups, which shape internal dynamics. The second goal of the study is focused on the multifaceted nature of communal traits. Accordingly, the latter part the article offers an actor-oriented analysis, observing the relations between different ethnopolitical groups and violent strife. Based on the qualitative group assessment of the Minorities at Risk project, the study puts to test the argument that not all ethnic groups are alike in their potential to fracture communal solidarity and ignite civil war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-171
Number of pages25
JournalCivil Wars
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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