From Claims to Violence: Signaling, Outbidding, and Escalation in Ethnic Conflict

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch
Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Do radical political demands increase the risk of ethnic civil conflict? And why do ethnic movements make radical demands in the first place? We contend that when movements are fragmented, individual organizations use far‐reaching claims relative to the status quo to attract attention from the government, boost intra‐organizational discipline, and outbid rivals. Yet, such radical claims also increase the risk of conflict escalation. We test our arguments at both the ethnic group and organizational levels, using a new dataset on ethno‐political organizations and their political demands. Our results show that the scope of demands increases the more organizations exist within an ethnic movement and that radical demands increase the risk of civil conflict onset. This effect is specific to the dyadic government‐movement interaction, irrespective of other ethnic groups in the country. Moreover, at the organizational level, radicalization in demands increases the likelihood that an organization becomes engaged in civil conflict.
DOI: 10.1177/0022002721996436
Vogt, Manuel, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, and Lars-Erik Cederman. 2021. “From Claims to Violence: Signaling, Outbidding, and Escalation in Ethnic Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution.
@article{from-claim-to-violence,
   author = {Vogt, Manuel and Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede and Cederman, Lars-Erik},
   title = {From Claims to Violence: Signaling, Outbidding, and Escalation in Ethnic Conflict},
   journal = {Journal of Conflict Resolution},
   year = {2021},
   doi = {10.1177/0022002721996436},
   URL = { https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002721996436},
   eprint = { https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002721996436 },
   abstract = { Do radical political demands increase the risk of ethnic civil conflict? And why do ethnic movements make radical demands in the first place? We contend that when movements are fragmented, individual organizations use far-reaching claims relative to the status quo to attract attention from the government, boost intra-organizational discipline, and outbid rivals. Yet, such radical claims also increase the risk of conflict escalation. We test our arguments at both the ethnic group and organizational levels, using a new dataset on ethno-political organizations and their political demands. Our results show that the scope of demands increases the more organizations exist within an ethnic movement and that radical demands increase the risk of civil conflict onset. This effect is specific to the dyadic government-movement interaction, irrespective of other ethnic groups in the country. Moreover, at the organizational level, radicalization in demands increases the likelihood that an organization becomes engaged in civil conflict. }
}