FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
CONFLICT ANALYSIS & RESOLUTION / POLITICAL SCIENCE SEMINAR
The Dilemma of Violence
Arizona State University
June 6, 2018 10.00-11.30
Recent findings regarding the effectiveness of nonviolent movements have initiated a new wave of research and data collection efforts among conflict scholars. Building on this research, this study begins with a puzzle: if nonviolent methods of resistance are effective—and perhaps even more successful than violent methods— why do social movements ever resort to violence? I argue that the efficacy of nonviolent resistance changes over time. When the likelihood of demobilization increases, dissident movements doubt the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance and weigh violence as an alternative tactic. However, I discuss that mobilization problems do not have an immediate provoking effect on dissident violence, as claimed in the political conflict literature. Violence is a costly mobilization instrument; hence, movements need a strong signal confirming that nonviolent resistance has failed to mobilize discontented citizens in order to resort to violence. The failure in expanding the size of a movement over several periods provides this signal. I also argue while the expansion of the movement decreases the risk of dissident violence, a sudden and large expansion in the size of the movement overburdens its monitoring and sanctioning capacities, which raises the risk of dissident violence. I empirically support these arguments using two different datasets.