American University
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States of insurgency: Conflict transformation in civil wars through social services

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posted on 2023-09-06, 03:40 authored by Rob Kevlihan

Under what circumstances can the provision of social services, including that provided as humanitarian assistance, contribute to the management and transformation of civil wars? This dissertation addresses this question through a qualitative comparative analysis of social service provision during three civil wars---Northern Ireland (1969--1998), southern Sudan (1983--2005) and Tajikistan (1992--1997). Drawing from theoretical advances in the field of contentious politics, it identifies two forms of brokerage, namely opportunity hoarding and exploitation, as key causal mechanisms related to social service provision during civil wars. These causal mechanisms provide useful tools for outlining ideal typical models that describe the interaction of insurgencies with social service providers. Drawing on field research in each of the three cases considered, this dissertation argues that in situations where social services are provided in a relatively autonomous way from categorical groups engaged in conflict, these services can materially impact the incentive structure confronting insurgencies, resulting in organizational changes that in turn can increase prospects for peace. These changes arise because of brokerage opportunities between local populations and social service systems created by autonomous social service systems. Furthermore, in situations where social services are of a relatively high capacity, social service systems can, over time, also address social grievances, taking these issues off the table when peace talks actually take place. These findings contradict recent research on insurgencies that argues that access or competition over resources inevitably leads to an intensification of conflict, arguing instead that not all resources have the same effects.



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Thesis (Ph.D.)--American University, 2009.


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