A Two-Stage Approach to Civil Conflict: Contested Incompatibilities and Armed Violence

Journal article

Bartusevičius, Henrikas & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2019) A Two-Stage Approach to Civil Conflict: Contested Incompatibilities and Armed Violence, International Organization 73 (1): 225–248.

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We present a two-stage approach to civil conflict analysis. Unlike conventional approaches that focus only on armed conflict and treat all other cases as “at peace,” we first distinguish cases with and without contested incompatibilities (Stage 1) and then whether or not contested incompatibilities escalate to armed conflict (Stage 2). This allows us to analyze factors that relate to conflict origination (onset of incompatibilities) and factors that predict conflict militarization (onset of armed violence). Using new data on incompatibilities and armed conflict, we replicate and extend three prior studies of violent civil conflict, reformulated as a two-stage process, considering different estimation procedures and potential selection problems. We find that the group-based horizontal political inequalities highlighted in research on violent civil conflict clearly relate to conflict origination but have no clear association with militarization, whereas other features emphasized as shaping the risk of civil war, such as refugee flows and soft state power, predict militarization but not incompatibilities. A two-stage approach to conflict analysis can help advance theories of civil conflict, assess alternative mechanisms through which explanatory variables are thought to influence conflict, and guide new data-collection efforts.

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