The political effectiveness of non-state violence : paradox, polarity, and the pursuit of power
Author(s)Krause, Peter John Paul
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Stephen Van Evera.
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When is non-state violence politically effective? Existing scholarship suggests that insurgency and terrorism are generally effective or ineffective based on the analysis of unitary non-state coercers operating solely at the strategic level. Although this approach provides useful insight, a failure to account for the internal dynamics of social movements within which armed groups are embedded obscures many of the most important causes and effects of non-state violence. The structuralist theory of non-state violence holds that the structure of power within social movements explains the greatest variation in both the use of violence by armed groups and its political effectiveness. Armed groups pursue common strategic goals that are characterized by collective action challenges against external enemies, such as the founding of a new state, while they simultaneously engage in zero-sum competition for organizational dominance with internal rivals. The central hypothesis of the structuralist theory is that violence is more likely to be strategically effective when employed by a unipolar social movement with one dominant armed group than by a multipolar social movement with two or more significant armed groups. The secondary hypothesis is that the strongest armed group in a social movement is the most likely to pursue strategic goals, whereas weaker groups in the hierarchy are more likely to pursue organizational goals exclusively, to the detriment of the movement. This theory is tested with a longitudinal analysis of 29 groups in 33 campaigns marked by a mix of violent and nonviolent action within the Palestinian, Irish, Zionist, and Algerian national movements. Analysis of primary sources and extensive interviews with key participants and observers help to demonstrate that the hierarchical position of groups within each of the four movements drove their relative focus towards strategic or organizational objectives as well as their associated use or non-use of violence. Furthermore, violence was more politically effective during periods of unipolarity than during periods of multipolarity within each movement. The structuralist theory of non-state violence thus reveals and explains greater variation in the political effectiveness of non-state violence than previous scholarship.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 329-339).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology