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Rebel Organizations, Force Structure, and the Dynamics of Violence in Armed Intrastate Conflicts

Mehrl, Marius (2020) Rebel Organizations, Force Structure, and the Dynamics of Violence in Armed Intrastate Conflicts. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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A burgeoning literature examines how armed groups’ force structure, i.e. who fights for them, and their external support contributes to conflict dynamics. Building on this, this thesis seeks to further our understanding of rebel organizations’ use of violence in civil war. Across four substantive chapters, it studies how rebel organizations’ force structure and their external support affect their use of violence against civilians, combat violence, and sexual violence. Chapter one focuses on child soldiering, suggesting that the practice does not have a uniformly positive effect on violence against civilians, as indicated by earlier work, but that the effect is conditioned by whether rebels receive civilian support. Chapters two and three use a quantitative case-study of the Nepalese civil war and a replication of a prominent earlier study to analyse how women’s participation in rebel organisations affect group behaviour. They find that female fighters decrease rebels’ civilian victimization and use of sexual violence, but also their combat performance. Finally, chapter four differentiates two modes of external support to rebel groups, hard and soft delegation, which vary in the control they afford to sponsors. While hard delegation increases combat deaths but not rebel violence against civilians, the opposite is the case for soft delegation. This thesis thus offers new theoretical and empirical insights into the drivers of civil war violence. It shows that the attributes of individual rebels crucially affect how rebel groups fight, challenging recent studies that emphasize the role of top-down socialization, such as ideological training, over that of combatant attributes while also suggesting a way forward by theoretically and empirically documenting the interaction of these two factors. In addition, it refines existing accounts of external state sponsorship of rebel groups, arguing that its effects on conflict dynamics depend on the control opportunities it affords to sponsors.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Marius Mehrl
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2020 11:49
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2020 11:49

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