The Ontology of “Political Violence”: Action and Identity in Civil Wars

  title={The Ontology of “Political Violence”: Action and Identity in Civil Wars},
  author={Stathis N. Kalyvas},
  journal={Perspectives on Politics},
  pages={475 - 494}
  • S. Kalyvas
  • Published 28 August 2003
  • Political Science
  • Perspectives on Politics
I discuss several conceptual problems raised by current understandings of political violence, especially as they pertain to actions, motivations, and identities in civil wars. Actions “on the ground” often turn out to be related to local and private conflicts rather than the war's driving (or “master”) cleavage. The disjunction between dynamics at the top and at the bottom undermines prevailing assumptions about civil wars, which are informed by two competing interpretive frames, most recently… 

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