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Title: Ordering Violence: Identity Boundaries and Social Coalitions in Revolutionary Situations
Authors: Mazur, Kevin
Advisors: Beissinger, Mark R
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Ethnicity
Social boundaries
Social movements
Subjects: Political science
Middle Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: What makes ethnicity the central division animating some violent intrastate conflicts and, in such conflicts, why do some local struggles align along this cleavage while others do not? This dissertation proposes a coalitional theory of revolutionary contention, based upon the notion that intrastate violent conflicts are struggles between an incumbent regime and its challengers to assemble coalitions of supporters. It holds that social actors’ expectations for how they will be treated by the incumbent and the challenger are critical in determining whether and how they will participate in revolutionary challenge to the state. These expectations are structured by the topography of ethnic boundaries, but also by many non-ethnic factors, including network ties, class, and regional identities, and evolve over the course of a revolutionary situation. Violence, to the extent that it flows primarily across one social boundary, such as ethnicity, can impugn the credibility of commitments made on the basis of other identities and make that social boundary the dominant social division defining the conflict. I test the implications of the coalitional theory for the behavior of social actors and the incumbent regime using a quantitative national-level study of the 2011 Syrian uprising and sub-national studies of two regions of Syria. The quantitative study employs newly collected, highly disaggregated data on ethnicity, social structure, and contentious events. The sub-national studies investigate the rapid escalation of violence in the city of Homs and the similarly dramatic de-escalation of protest in the Kurdish regions of northern Syria, drawing on interviews and primary and secondary source materials. I also examine the role of identity boundaries and network ties in structuring participation in the Bosnian war of the early 1990s and the restoration of political order in Iraq following the 1991 mass uprising against the regime. By theorizing the interaction of state distributive strategies and social boundaries, the dissertation contributes to ongoing efforts to disentangle ethnic and non-ethnic factors in explanations of political phenomena. In particular, it augments theories of instrumental, strategic action in revolutionary situations by demonstrating the ways in which violence can foreclose many choices of social actors in conflict.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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