Violence and Mobilization in Intra-State Armed Conflicts

The effects of civilian victimization on subsequent processes of war-time mobilization have been subject to intense scholarly debates. Particular attention has been paid to the impact of state violence on the mobilization capacity of armed groups. Some scholars have concluded that state violence is among the key forces that drive rebel recruitment and conflict duration. Others have highlighted the negative effect of violent repression in curbing insurgent capacities, including the ability to mobilize active participation and civilian support. The evidence remains ambiguous. What determines the effect of violent repression on armed groups' capacity to mobilize followers? What explains the diverging reactions of ordinary citizens to violence executed by armed groups?
This project investigates the effects of violence against civilians in intra-state armed conflicts on subsequent dynamics of pro- and counterinsurgent mobilization and armed competition. Apart from adding to the literature on conflict duration and participation, the project also aims to contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which societies respond to political violence and of how institutions are transformed by violent conflict. Theoretically, this study explains variations in the effects of violent repression by specifying the conditions and mechanisms that link violence against civilians with distinct forms of pro- and counterinsurgent mobilization and processes of conflict continuation or termination. Empirically, the project relies on both cross-national (`macro’) and subnational (`micro’) data and a combination of quantitative methods for causal inference in observational studies. This dissertation project was conducted by Livia Isabella Schubiger and has received partial financial support from the Zurich University Alumni Association (FAN fellowship) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (fellowship PBZHP1-133450).