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A congruence analysis of the inequality–conflict nexus: Evidence from 16 cases

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The relationship between inequality and civil conflict has attracted considerable interest in conflict research. Recent large-N studies have shown that inequalities significantly contribute to the outbreak of civil conflict and have proposed a number of causal pathways to account for this. These pathways, however, have rarely been assessed in systematic case-based research. This study implements a “middle-N” qualitative congruence analysis of 16 conflicts, focusing on the observable implications of the pathways through which inequalities are typically theorized to influence conflict. The study finds evidence to support some of the main pathways proposed in the quantitative literature. Furthermore, the analysis finds that different types of inequalities relate to different conflict categories. Specifically, vertical inequalities relate to non-ethnic governmental conflicts (via an “individual deprivation pathway”), regional inequalities to non-ethnic territorial conflicts (via a “separatist pathway”), and horizontal inequalities to ethnic conflicts (via a “group deprivation pathway”).
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... Furthermore, psychological research has typically relied on samples from Western democracies (Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan 2010). By contrast, political scientists have extensively analyzed the inequality-violence link, across various countries; however, they have rarely tested individual-level theories against individual-level data (for critiques, see Bartusevičius 2019;Dyrstad and Hillesund 2020;Hillesund 2015;Koos 2018;Miodownik and Nir 2015;Pettigrew 2015;Rustad 2016). ...
... Several macro-level studies have identified a positive association between (static) vertical inequalities and civil conflict (e.g., Bartusevičius 2014;Boix 2008;Buhaug, Cederman, and Gleditsch 2014; see also Bartusevičius 2019). Why have we not found an association between inequality and violence? ...
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