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Competing theories of the motivations for political violence

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									Competing theories of
  the motivations for
    political violence
 Relative Deprivation Theory vs.
        Rational Revolutionaries
I. Introduction: Review, Week 1
l   Analytical case studies

l   Limitations of case studies
    l   Counterfactuals
    l   Value of Generalization
        l   Explaining other cases
        l   Informing policy
I. Introduction: Overview
Turning explanations into a broader theory
    l   Falsifiable/testable
    l   Clearer implications

l   II. Gurr: Relative Deprivation Theory
l   III. Lichbach: Rational Revolutionaries

l   IV. Evaluating competing theories: comparing
    implications
II. Gurr: “Why Men Rebel”:
Relative Deprivation
l   A synthesis of existing explanations,
    generalized to be empirically examined (and,
    if confirmed, applied).

l   1. Discontent is caused by perception of
    relative deprivation.
    l   “relative deprivation is a perceived discrepancy between men’s
        value expectations and their value capabilities.”
    l   Value expectations: what we deserve/should have
    l   Value capabilities: our means/opportunities
II. Relative Deprivation Theory
l   Q: What is the meaning of the term relative in
    “relative deprivation”?

l   2. Discontent is the spur to action (necessary
    condition).
    l   Violence is more likely if:
        l   Discrepancy is large; Discontent is intense
        l   State is perceived to be responsible
        l   Violence is appropriate (justifiable) and effective
II. Relative Deprivation Theory
l   Causes of the perception of RD:
    l   Rising expectations unmet
        l   Practically speaking, gains of other social groups
    l   Unwarranted decline in well-being
        l   Esp. economic decline or a reduction in rights
II. Relative Deprivation Theory
l   4. Importance of the scope of RD: collective
    violence requires collective perceptions of
    RD.

l   5. Insurgent or terrorist organizational
    strength increases violence.
    l   But depends primarily on extent of RD

l   6. State repression in RD theory
II. Understanding RD theory
l   Are the following motivations for political
    violence in Gurr’s theory?
      l   Poverty?
      l   Starvation?
      l   Torture?
      l   Equality before the law?
II. Understanding RD theory
l   More generally, does objective deprivation
    cause RD?

l   Is there any conflict between RD theory and
    l   Scott & Depression Rebellions?
    l   White & Joining the provisional IRA?
    l   Wood & support for the FMLN?
    l   Hinton & Cambodian Genocide?
II. Understanding RD theory
l   Are the following motivations for political
    violence in Gurr’s theory?
      l   Fear or expectations of future problems?
      l   Groups with incompatible goals?
      l   A leader violating a norm (moral/ethical rule)?
III. Lichbach: Rational
Revolutionaries
l   Claim 1: Grievances are neither a necessary
    nor a sufficient condition for political violence.

l   Theory: the logic of collective action.

l   Claim 2: selective incentives are a major
    motivation for participation in political
    violence.
    l   Incentives v. rights
III. Rational Revolutionaries
l   Evidence:
    l   Most common resistance…
    l   Most common type of collective action…
    l   When revolt occurs…
    l   Political awareness of insurgents
IV. Evaluating competing
theories
l   Competing theories typically provide alternative
    explanations of well known events, so how do we
    evaluate them?
        l   Problem of observational equivalence

l   Theoretical flaws
    l   Logical inconsistencies
    l   Incomplete
    l   Lack of precision: all behavior fits (not falsifiable)
l   Conflicting observable implications
l   Assumptions?
IV. Defining rational choice
l   Rational choice or strategic choice theories hold that
    people choose their actions in order to achieve their
    goals, given their beliefs about what strategies are
    effective.
    l   Goals and beliefs are taken as given, but are consistent.


l   RD is not a rational choice theory: aggression is a
    behavioral consequence of the perception RD.
    Aggression can produce counter-productive and
    illogical behavior.
IV. Evaluating RD and RR
l   If grievances motivate political violence, who
    should participate in political violence and
    when should violence occur?

l   If selective incentives motivate political
    violence, who should participate in political
    violence and when should violence occur?
IV. Evaluating RD and RR
l   Do RD theory and RR theory predict that the
    following “types” of people are more likely to
    participate in political violence:
    l   Unemployed
    l   Strong political views
    l   (Consider other groups on your own)
l   Other behaviors that do not fit?
IV. Evaluating RD and RR
l   Do RD theory and the RR theory predict
    political violence when countries have:
    l   Depressions/increasing poverty
    l   Lootable resources
    l   (consider others on your own)
IV. Evaluating RD and RR
l   Logically discriminating conditions:

    l   Absence of organizations providing selective
        incentives, but wide-spread grievances
        l   Gurr à some political violence (or groups emerge)
        l   Lichbach à no political violence
    l   Or, absence of wide-spread grievances, but
        strong organizations providing selective incentives
        l   Gurr à no political violence
        l   Lichbach à political violence
V. Next: a focus on terrorist
organizations
l   How do the next readings fit into this debate?
    l   Crenshaw “adjusts” the focus of
        rationalist/strategic theoretical tradition
    l   Abrams investigates implications of this move

								
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