The Role of First Actors

Led by Roger D. Petersen

Jan 2003 – May 2011

The role of first actors

The workshop aims to examine “first actors” in civil wars. Two central elements of civil war are 1) groups or actors contending for control of the state (or at least a region of state-control) 2) the presence of violence. First actors are those individuals who transform contentious politics into civil war through the introduction of violence. A country may be experiencing problems or protests, but the situation is not a civil war until violence breaks out. The workshop studies the agents behind this transformation.

Civil war is broadly defined here and includes resistance to occupation and wars for independence. While many lessons can be learned from the actions of leaders of non-violent movements, the focus here, keeping with the overall purpose of the group remains on civil war. In further keeping with the aims of the Microfoundations of Civil War working group, we will focus mainly on individual-level preferences, beliefs, and actions. Then we will examine the social and political structures these individuals are embedded in and the dynamic process leading to civil war set off by the actions of first actors.

The workshop wil be held 17-18 August 2006 at PRIO.

The program and papers for the workshop can be downloaded here.

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