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Coding political (non) violent conflict processes in quantitative studies

Ricardo Sousa
Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Ricardo Sousa
Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam
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Abstract

With the geopolitical changes of the end of the cold war a series of studies focused on the dynamics of civil war (intra-state). One of such areas of research relates to quantitative studies looking specifically to the processes of onset, duration and termination of conflict. Most of these studies operationalize civil war as a distinct phenomenon of political contestation, focusing on agency in a dyad government-challenging group, the nation state as the unit of analysis and a dicothomous peace versus war approach determined by a threshold of battle related deaths. Through a comparative analysis of the main datasets, the procedures and concepts of such operationalization are critically assess in light of a more dynamic process oriented approach to the phenomena of conflict and civil war. The relevance of this study is found in the fact that the specifications of key variables, in this case the dependent variable, can lead to significantly different results in the models. As a conclusion areas of conceptual and operational improvement for the main quantitative datasets are identified.