Clenching the Fists of Dissent: Political Unrest, Repression, and the Evolution to Civil War

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Previous scholarship has long concentrated on the behaviors of belligerents during regime-dissident interactions. While much of the progress in the literature concentrated on the micro-level processes of this relationship, little research has focused on providing a theoretical reasoning on why belligerents choose to act in a particular manner. This project attempts to open the black box of decision making for regimes and dissidents during regime-dissident interactions in order to provide a theoretical justification for the behaviors of the belligerents involved. Moreover, this project argues that there is a relationship between the lower level events of political violence and civil war ... continued below

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Backstrom, Jeremy R August 2016.

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  • Backstrom, Jeremy R

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Previous scholarship has long concentrated on the behaviors of belligerents during regime-dissident interactions. While much of the progress in the literature concentrated on the micro-level processes of this relationship, little research has focused on providing a theoretical reasoning on why belligerents choose to act in a particular manner. This project attempts to open the black box of decision making for regimes and dissidents during regime-dissident interactions in order to provide a theoretical justification for the behaviors of the belligerents involved. Moreover, this project argues that there is a relationship between the lower level events of political violence and civil war as the events at earlier stages of the conflict influence the possible outcome of civil conflict. Regimes and dissidents alike are strategic actors who conduct themselves in a manner to ensure their survival while concurrently attempting to succeed at achieving their respective goals. Although all authoritarian regimes are similar in their differences to democracies, there are significant differences between the regimes, which influence the decision making of the regime leader to ensure the survival of the political institution. In addition to influencing the decision calculus of the regimes, the behavior of the regimes impacts the probability of civil war at later stages of the interaction. Conversely, dissidents also perform as strategic actors in an attempt to gain their preferred concessions and outcomes. Although their comprehension of the coercive capacity of a regime is limited, their knowledge of the repressive capacity of the regime provides them with the understanding of their future fate if they escalate to violence against the regime. This project is conducted using two theories on regime and dissident actions and responses, two large-N empirical analyses of regime and dissident behaviors during nonviolent and violent dissident campaigns from 1945-2006, and two historical case studies of Egypt and Syria during the Arab Spring as well as the period preceding the uprising.

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  • August 2016

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  • Aug. 31, 2016, 10:41 p.m.

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  • Oct. 25, 2016, 9:59 a.m.

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Backstrom, Jeremy R. Clenching the Fists of Dissent: Political Unrest, Repression, and the Evolution to Civil War, dissertation, August 2016; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc862817/: accessed May 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .