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Title: Ethno-political inequalities and intra-state conflict
Author: Abbs, Luke
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 8742
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates the relationship between ethnic-based political inequalities and political conflict. Building on recent theoretical and methodological advancements, I develop three empirical chapters that investigate distinct, yet unrelated mechanisms linking ethno-political configurations to disparate forms of contentious action. These chapters each utilise quantitative methods, and new subnational-level and actor-level data, to uncover a number of important findings regarding types of conflict behaviour not captured by civil war analyses. The first empirical chapter focuses on ethnic riots, a type of non-militarised violence involving violent clashes between civilians of rival ethnic groups. I argue that this previously overlooked form of political violence is likely to emerge when there is: politically dominant ethnic groups coexisting with a group facing systematic political discrimination or a loss of power. I find support for this argument through the first cross-national and subnational analysis of ethnic riots in Africa. The second empirical chapter focuses on the incidence of mass nonviolent action, which involves the mobilisation of large numbers of diverse people. I argue that cleavages within and across ethnic groups often undermine this kind of political mobilisation, but that cross cutting grievances can overcome this issue and facilitate resistance. Testing this argument sub-nationally, I find support for my argument that the relationship between ethno-political inequalities and nonviolent action is dependent on the existence of cross-cutting grievances, as this provides opportunities for disparate groups to unite against the state. The final empirical chapter (co-authored with Govinda Clayton and Andrew Thompson) explores the relationship between ethnic militias, either recruited from politically dominant or disadvantaged ethnic groups, and civil war duration. We thereby move beyond assumptions that the government-side is unitary. We argue that coethnic PGMs (i.e. those recruited from the same ethnicity as the ruling elite) are associated with longer conflicts, as they have strong incentives to maintain ethno-political power and further polarise ethnic divisions. We find strong support for these claims in a global time-series cross sectional analysis.
Supervisor: Clayton, Govinda Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available