5 Nov 2012: Politics Seminar

Issued: Thu, 13 Sep 2012 17:42:00 BST

Inequality, Grievances and Civil War

Professor Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (University of Essex & PRIO)

4pm, Adam Smith Research Foundation, 66 Oakfield Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QF

Although many internal conflicts seem to involve discriminated and stateless peoples and suggest that grievances motivate civil war, much of the contemporary literature on civil war give short shrift to grievance-based accounts, arguing that measures of ethnic diversity and unequal individual wealth distributions have no statistically distinguishable relationship to internal conflict. We challenge these non-findings and argue that they to a large extent depend on inappropriate theoretical assumptions and problematic empirical operationalization. If properly reconceptualized as group-level claims resulting from macro processes such as nationalism and state formation, rather than as fixed ethno-demographic configurations or apolitical collections of individual characteristics, grievances can be systematically linked to political violence through actor-specific mechanisms. Taking this step from factors to actors enables us to postulate hypotheses about conflict behaviour in ethno-political configurations, and we show empirical evidence attesting to the clear relevance of political and economic grievances.


The Politics Seminar Series is supported by the MacFie Bequest, named after Professor Alec MacFie, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University from 1945 to 1958. 

For any further information, please contact Mo Hume: Mo.Hume@glasgow.ac.uk