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Regime Transition and Communal Violence
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Regime Transition and Communal Violence Joakim Kreutz and Kristine Eck Uppsala University Paper prepared for the 52 nd International Studies Association conference; Montreal, 16-19 March 2011. Violence between different communities erupts only occasionally; it is more prevalent in countries like India, Ethiopia, and Nigeria than in Mozambique, the Philippines, or Yemen. What accounts for these differences? To date, no existing study has investigated why and when communal violence occurs using systematic cross-national data; we seek to address this glaring research gap. We argue that the role of the state plays a major role in constraining or facilitating the expression of violence between different communities. In particular, we view major regime transitions as a window of opportunity for communal groups to mobilize and exploit the decreased deterrent capacity of the state; in such periods, the state is less able to contain the problems of communal opportunism that are otherwise restricted by the threat of punishment from formal institutions. Similarly, we suggest that informal in-group policing is also dependent on regime stability and will cease to function effectively during major regime transitions. We then nuance this argument to suggest that the type of regime in the previous period will affect the incentive structure for communal violence, with unconstrained and exclusionary regimes particularly likely to experience communal violence during regime transitions. We test these arguments using new global data on communal violence 1989-2007 and find that our arguments are supported: communal violence is more likely in the aftermath of major regime transitions; this is particularly so if the regime in the previous period was an autocracy, was led by an unconstrained executive, or was dominated by a single ethnic group.

Authors: Kreutz, Joakim. and Eck, Kristine.
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Regime Transition and Communal Violence 
 
 
Joakim Kreutz and Kristine Eck 
Uppsala University 
 
 
Paper prepared for the 52
nd
 International Studies Association conference; Montreal, 16-19 March 2011. 
 
 
Violence  between  different  communities  erupts  only  occasionally;  it  is  more  prevalent  in  countries  like 
India,  Ethiopia,  and  Nigeria  than  in  Mozambique,  the  Philippines,  or  Yemen.  What  accounts  for  these 
differences? To date, no existing study has investigated why and when communal violence occurs using 
systematic cross-national data; we seek to address this glaring research gap. We argue that the role of the 
state  plays  a  major  role  in  constraining  or  facilitating  the  expression  of  violence  between  different 
communities. In particular, we view major regime transitions as a window of opportunity for communal 
groups to mobilize and exploit the decreased deterrent capacity of the state; in such periods, the state is 
less able to contain the problems of communal opportunism that are otherwise restricted by the threat of 
punishment  from  formal  institutions.  Similarly,  we  suggest  that  informal  in-group  policing  is  also 
dependent on regime stability and will cease to function effectively during major regime transitions. We 
then  nuance  this  argument  to  suggest  that  the  type  of  regime  in  the  previous  period  will  affect  the 
incentive structure for communal violence, with unconstrained and exclusionary regimes particularly likely 
to  experience  communal  violence  during  regime  transitions.  We  test  these  arguments  using  new  global 
data on communal violence 1989-2007 and find that our arguments are supported: communal violence is 
more likely in the aftermath of major regime transitions; this is particularly so if the regime in the previous 
period  was  an  autocracy,  was  led  by  an  unconstrained  executive,  or  was  dominated  by  a  single  ethnic 
group. 
 
 


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