Greed, Grievance, and Mobilization in Civil Wars

  • Created : 19.06.2017 21:47
  • Last Updated:19.06.2017 21:57
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This is a quantitative study examining the role of greed and grievance in mobilizing masses. The authors rather than taking civil war as a single phase of political violence, they measure the role of the variables at different stages of political violence. They also look at the onset of protests and rebellions. They find that there are some similarities and differences between protests, rebellion and civil wars. They also suggest that different variables have different effects on protests, rebellions and civil wars. 
 
Existing literature have different argument regarding the motivating force behind political violence. Some argue that people risk their lives and take up arms against governments because of their grievances and deprivations. On the other hand, some argue that people join rebellions because they see it as a source of income. It is the material gains of the violence that draws people to the movement. 
 
The authors argue that grievance is a necessary condition and do not deny that it plays an important role. They point out, however, that grievances can be seen in many parts of the world where political violence does not take place. Therefore, grievance on its own is not enough to mobilize masses to start armed movement against the government. They suggest that ability of the rebel elites “to mobilize resources determines the extent of internal conflict”. If the rebel elites cannot make some side payments to the rebels, it will be difficult to recruit people for the rebellion. 
 
They also argue that grievances can be enough to motivate people to join the rebellion at the early stages. Governments can resort to use of force to suppress the rebellion/protest at early stages. It is at this stage that cost of rebellion incurs on soldiers. Also it is at this stage that rebel leaders are expected to provide selective benefits. These can be protection from government forces as well as material benefits such as share from the revenue etc. If some selective benefits are not provided, the authors assume, some rebels are likely to defect and the government can use other tools to lure the rebels.
 
They assume difference of objectives between elites and the soldiers of the rebel movement. Elites demand authority and/or control of (some) territory, while non-elites (i.e. soldiers) expect improvement in their living conditions and/or remedy for their grievances.