Accounting for numbers: Group characteristics and the choice of violent and nonviolent tactics

The Economics of Peace and Security Journal

Published On 2021/4/25

Scholars have shown that nonviolent movements tend to be more successful than violent movements. A key explanation is that nonviolent movements have a mobilization advantage over violent campaigns. As nonviolent movements have lower barriers to active participation, they can expand quickly by mobilizing much larger numbers than violent movements. We argue that such a mobilization advantage is not universal, and that different movements are likely to have a comparative advantage in one tactic over another. We develop a simple model emphasizing how the ex ante potential for mobilization and prospects for success steer the choice of dissident tactics. Nonviolent tactics can be relatively more effective when a movement can mobilize more active participants than with violence, but movements with limited mobilization potential can have feasible prospects for violent dissent and a nonviolent mobilization disadvantage. We examine the implications of the model against empirical data for different types of dissident tactics and on resort to nonviolent and nonviolent dissent. We demonstrate very different actor profiles in nonviolent dissent and violent conflict, and show how each of the two types of dissent are more likely under very different settings. To compare success by types of dissent we must account for how differences in potential numbers or mobilization shape tactical choices.

Journal

The Economics of Peace and Security Journal

Published On

2021/4/25

Volume

16

Issue

1

Authors

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

Position

Professor Department of Government & Peace Research Institute Oslo

H-Index(all)

60

H-Index(since 2020)

48

I-10 Index(all)

0

I-10 Index(since 2020)

0

Citation(all)

0

Citation(since 2020)

0

Cited By

0

Research Interests

Conflict

international relations

democratization

statistical methods

political science

University Profile Page

Belen Gonzalez

Belen Gonzalez

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Position

and German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)

H-Index(all)

9

H-Index(since 2020)

8

I-10 Index(all)

0

I-10 Index(since 2020)

0

Citation(all)

0

Citation(since 2020)

0

Cited By

0

Research Interests

political conflict

state violence

international politics

human rights

University Profile Page

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Belen Gonzalez

Belen Gonzalez

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

The authoritarian security apparatus: officer careers and the trade-offs in command

Autocracies are notorious for high levels of repression and an exceptional coup threat (eg, Svolik, 2012; Valentino, 2004; Wintrobe, 2000). This puts the security apparatus and those who work within it at the center of authoritarian power politics. Equipped with the resources to quell uprisings and revolutions, the military serves as the last line of defense against threats from outside of the regime leadership (eg, Barany, 2016; Koehler and Albrecht, 2021; Pion-Berlin, Esparza and Grisham, 2014). At the same time, however, officers can and often do use their power to overthrow the very regime they are supposed to protect (eg, De Bruin, 2020; Powell, 2012; Singh, 2014). Faced with the dual threat of revolutions and coups, autocratic leaders must forge a security apparatus that is both capable and loyal. This chapter sheds light on the dynamics within the authoritarian security apparatus to explain how autocrats balance …

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The Death and Life of State Repression: Understanding Onset, Escalation, Termination and Recurrence. By Christian Davenport and Benjamin J. Appel. Oxford: Oxford University …

The Death and Life of State Repression addresses a problem that dates back at least 75 years, if not before. Since World War II, individuals and institutions from around the world have been concerned with state repression/human rights violations and since about 1990, a robust empirical literature has emerged to investigate what drives this behavior up or down (ie, exploring variation). While useful, this work has generally ignored important aspects of the" Death/Life cycle" of state repression: ie, its onset, escalation, termination and recurrence. Such an approach is important because different explanations and policies might be relevant for different parts of the cycle. Exploring a new database of repressive spells from 1976-2006 and new theory regarding spells, The Death and Life of State Repression breaks new ground in a variety of different ways. The book argues that repression is a sticky process that is largely slow-moving and non-adaptive. Consequently, change in this behavior is rare unless the ruling cohort is perturbed in some manner. What perturbs is somewhat surprising. The authors do not argue or find support for the predominant variables/policies advanced by the international community (ie, naming/shaming, international law, military intervention and economic sanctions). Rather, their research advances and finds that political democratization plays a crucial role in reducing and stopping most aspects of repressive spells, and democratization itself is influenced by non-violent direct action. The book has major implications for those who wish to study state repression, as well as those who have an interest in trying to reduce and stop it …

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

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Local deprivation predicts right-wing hate crime in England

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

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University of Essex

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

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Belen Gonzalez

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Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Journal of Peace Research

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University of Essex

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Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

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University of Essex

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University of Essex

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

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Accounting for numbers: Group characteristics and the choice of violent and nonviolent tactics

Scholars have shown that nonviolent movements tend to be more successful than violent movements. A key explanation is that nonviolent movements have a mobilization advantage over violent campaigns. As nonviolent movements have lower barriers to active participation, they can expand quickly by mobilizing much larger numbers than violent movements. We argue that such a mobilization advantage is not universal, and that different movements are likely to have a comparative advantage in one tactic over another. We develop a simple model emphasizing how the ex ante potential for mobilization and prospects for success steer the choice of dissident tactics. Nonviolent tactics can be relatively more effective when a movement can mobilize more active participants than with violence, but movements with limited mobilization potential can have feasible prospects for violent dissent and a nonviolent mobilization disadvantage. We examine the implications of the model against empirical data for different types of dissident tactics and on resort to nonviolent and nonviolent dissent. We demonstrate very different actor profiles in nonviolent dissent and violent conflict, and show how each of the two types of dissent are more likely under very different settings. To compare success by types of dissent we must account for how differences in potential numbers or mobilization shape tactical choices.

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