Statebuilding, Upheaval and Civil War

Authored by: Edward Newman

Routledge Handbook of Civil Wars

Print publication date:  February  2014
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415622585
eBook ISBN: 9780203105962
Adobe ISBN: 9781136255786


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Recent political science scholarship has reflected great interest in institutional incapacity and failing state authority as a key driving force or enabling factor for instability, intrastate conflict and civil war. Beyond this, there is a tradition of scholarship, including political and historical sociology, which explores a broader range of processes linked with the state in order to understand the fundamental nature of organized violence and armed conflict within a societal context. Within this field the processes of statebuilding and the consolidation of the state have been key topics, especially in historical perspective. Statebuilding has been a coercive and sometimes a violent process because it involves the imposition of political authority and institutions which threaten the interests of recalcitrant actors, and it encounters resistance which must be subjugated. The consolidation of national political projects is a related process that has often been accompanied by significant armed conflict as groups with vying political visions compete for control of the agenda. For scholars interested in the fundamental social and political changes which drive armed conflict – and in going beyond the state failure narrative – statebuilding has therefore been a key theme. However, this has largely been studied as a historical phenomenon, and generally associated with the European experience. The violence of statebuilding has also not been a major theme in recent empirical civil war research; rather, the focus has been on war as a consequence of the disintegration of states.

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