Guerrilla Governance: Patterns and Explanations

Posted: 13 Aug 2009

Date Written: 2009


Guerrillas frequently form governments for civilians living in areas they hold during civil war. The forms these governments take vary considerably. They present an underexploited area in comparative politics. Insurgents choose to form governments only when they think it will help them win their civil war. Civilian responses may alter their original design. In this paper I discuss which cases of guerrilla organization are appropriate for analysis, the different patterns of civilian governance, three brief case studies to demonstrate the variation, and a preliminary account of explanations for their differences. The explanations discussed here focus on doctrines adopted by guerrillas before rebellion, whether rebellion occurs as a result of predation or a security dilemma, differential access to wealth and the presence or absence of material resources available to guerrilla leaders. The variables discussed in the paper are represented in a template that is currently being used to build a dataset on civilian governance during civil wars conducted between 1945 and 2005.

Suggested Citation

Kasfir, Nelson, Guerrilla Governance: Patterns and Explanations (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Nelson Kasfir (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2549 (Phone)
603-646-2152 (Fax)

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