This working group studies the interplay of the processes of civil war onset and termination, changes to political institutions, and the societal changes brought about by ‘modernization’. These changes have closely related explanations. Democracies fail to prevent conflict in the developing world in part because they are vulnerable to reversals to authoritarian rule – often by means of violence. Similarly, democratization is a political conflict that sometimes turns violent. Socio-economic factors affect strategies and goals of the parties to the political conflict. At the same time, political stability affects societal changes. The group brings together specialists on different aspects of this nexus, and also seeks to identify institutions that may lift countries out of the ‘conflict trap’.