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On the Organization of Political Violence: Theoretical Synthesis and Application

Odysseas Christou
University of Nicosia
Odysseas Christou
University of Nicosia
Open Panel

Abstract

The paper presents a new approach to the study of organized political violence. This interdisciplinary theoretical framework synthesizes concepts from the economic literature on asymmetric information and the sociological literature on movements and networks with traditional political science accounts of collective action. The resulting theoretical model tests the utility of social norms and networks in successful recruitment by organizations of political violence. Methodologically, the framework calls for the collection of micro-level primary data of individuals’ involvement in conflict, especially with regards (but not limited to) recruitment and participation. These are then codified into a database that can be utilized for single case study or comparative analysis. Practically, such databases will allow researchers to utilize micro-level data far into the future when the collection of such data will have become impossible. Theoretically, it facilitates the usage and/or combination of different methodologies such as statistical modeling, social network analysis or content analysis. The paper also discusses the practical considerations of this approach such as the narrow timeframe within which studies of particular conflicts can take place. This approach is being implemented by the author on a case study of the Greek Cypriot organization EOKA which was active between 1955 and 1959 against British colonial forces on Cyprus. Results of a completed feasibility study of the project of 30 in-depth interviews will be presented. Currently, the project is in the early stages of full scale data collection which will involve more than 100 in-depth interviews as well as more than 500 survey questionnaires.