SWP 31

Broderes in Arms: Gangs and the Socialization of Violence in Post-conflict Nicaragua

Dennis Rodgers


This paper explores various ways in which gang members in post-conflict Nicaragua have internalized and put into practice a range of violent behaviour patterns over the past two decades. It shows how different types of gang violence can be related to distinct forms of socialization, tracing how these particular articulations have changed over time, often for very contingent reasons. As such, the paper highlights the need to conceive the socialization of violence within gangs as a dynamic and contextualized process, and suggests drawing on the notion of “repertoire” as a means of meaningfully representing this.

SWP 30

Learning Restraint: The Role of Political Education in Armed Group Behavior Toward Civilians

Amelia Hoover Green


Recent scholarship on violence against civilians during armed conflict has emphasized the role of armed group institutions in promoting and, occasionally, controlling atrocities. Given the many causal mechanisms identified (training, ideology, contestation, unit leadership), it remains unclear which of them does the explanatory work in which settings. This paper argues that extrinsic motivations (rewards and punishments) are insufficient to maintain behavioral control, and control is most effective when commanders work to align combatants’ preferences with their own. The argument is tested on micro-level evidence drawn from civil war in El Salvador.

SWP 29

State of Injustice: The Indian State and Poverty

John Harriss


Speaking in the Constituent Assembly in January 1947 Jawaharlal Nehru offered a vision of independent India as a state that would deliver social justice. That it has not done so is shown up very clearly in Akhil Gupta’s calculation that the Indian state has been responsible for two million avoidable deaths each year. The paper first reviews the history of the actions of the Indian state in regard to poverty and provides a statement of the poverty problem. It proceeds to a discussion of Gupta’s answer to the question of how and why it is that Indian state has ‘killed’ (as he puts it) so many people, finding his explanation insightful but wanting nonetheless, notably because of the way in which it depoliticizes poverty. Finally the paper asks whether the ‘new welfare architecture’ established through the recent, remarkable series of legislative innovations in regard to social rights, means that the state is now delivering on the promise of social justice. The conclusion is that the legislation makes rather for the management of poverty in the context of the absolute priority that is still being placed on economic growth as an end in itself.

SWP 28

Socialization and Organized Political Violence: Theoretical Tools and Challenges

Jeffrey T. Checkel


Socialization – or the process of inducting new members into the norms and rules of a given community – has a long history in the social sciences.  Early work by sociologists and anthropologists was followed by a political socialization research program in political science. After a lull in the 1990s, interest has revived among political scientists. Work by both IR scholars and comparativists treats socialization as a key dynamic fostering order and disorder at the international, national and sub-national levels. A review of contemporary socialization research shows that earlier theoretical and methodological weaknesses are being addressed, and that the utility of the concept has been established. However, within political science, there is still a clear need for cross fertilization. Collaboration among  IR theorists and comparativists will produce better arguments about socialization – including in studies of civil conflict.

SWP 27

Servicing the Demands of Empire: Institutionalizing Illegality in Panama's Borderlands

Matthew Scalena


This study of borderland “vice” in US-Panama relations argues that a focus on these activities, which many considered illicit, deepens our understanding of both the mechanics of empire and the development of nation-states, while complicating assorted state actions usually considered simple “corruption.” Engaging illicit activity proved an important aspect of both Panamanian nation-state formation and US imperial expansion. Panama served as an early “workshop” for US officials to experiment with extraterritorial criminal justice initiatives as a means of control in lieu of direct occupation. Local power holders worked with these powerful intrusions but often not in ways US officials hoped. Controlling the illicit infrastructure of state became an important component of institutionalized politics and power in Panama.

SWP 26

International Institutions and Global Governance: The Turn to Mechanisms and Process

Jeffrey T. Checkel


The past decade has seen a sustained move by students of international institutions and organizations to viewing their subject matter as independent variables affecting state interests and policy. Conceptually, this has put a premium on identifying the mechanisms connecting institutions to states; methodologically, there has been a growing concern with measuring process. While this move has produced rich and analytically rigorous studies that demonstrate the multiple roles – good and bad – institutions play in global politics, significant challenges remain. In terms of design, scholars often neglect the problem of equifinality – where multiple causal pathways may lead to the same outcome – and instead conduct process tracing only on their preferred argument. Theoretically, the focus on process seems to reduce the power and generalizability of arguments about institutions. Finally, the potential for process tracing to help combine rationalist and constructivist insights remains largely unfulfilled.

SWP 25

NGO Politics in Uganda: A Practitioner's Perspective

Scott Andrews


Over the past decade the relationship between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the government of Uganda has become increasingly adversarial. In order to gauge perceptions of the causes and implications of the increasing tensions, interviews were conducted with NGO professionals and government officials in the Masaka, Gulu and Kampala districts. Based on the responses from these interviews, this paper argues that the tension between the government of Uganda and NGOs is due in part to the increased focus on lobbying and advocacy. The resulting antagonism between NGOs and the government of Uganda has deleterious effects on the ability of both actors to implement effective development programmes. This paper also finds that the capability of both of these actors is limited by their narrow social base and lack of meaningful connection with the majority of Ugandan citizens.

SWP 24

Reading Economics: The Role of Mainstream Economics in International Development Studies Today

Morten Jerven


What is the role of the economics discipline in teaching and studying international development today? This paper draws upon experiences of teaching and reading economics with students in interdisciplinary international development studies. The main conclusion is that economic literacy is a key ingredient in development studies. This paper discusses different interpretations of what economic literacy may entail and why this literacy is important. It concludes by suggesting a number of paths to achieve the necessary level of understanding.

SWP 23

Perils of Pluralism: Electoral Violence and Competitive Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Charles Taylor, Jon Pevehouse and Scott Straus


Why do some multi-party elections lead to political violence while others do not? Despite extensive literatures on democratization and civil war, electoral violence has received much less attention. We develop a set of theoretical propositions to explain variation, and we test these against an original dataset on Africa’s grand democratic experiment after the Cold War. Contra existing research, we find most violence takes place before the election and is committed by incumbents. We also demonstrate different causal dynamics of violence before and after election day. Pre-existing social conflict and the quality of founding elections shape pre-vote violence, while the stability of democratic institutions and weaker economic growth shape post-vote violence. When incumbents seek reelection, electoral violence is more likely, and when civil wars occur simultaneously with voting, electoral violence is less likely, before and after elections. We provide region-specific and global interpretations.