'Private Armies, Public Costs: A Typological Theory of Armed Groups'

32 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 5 Apr 2010

See all articles by Diego Esparza

Diego Esparza

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science

Michael Prather

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 31, 2010

Abstract

The global economic downturn has ramifications not only at the international level, but also at the domestic level of politics. In developing states economic ills not only increase unemployment and contentious politics but also decrease state capacity to execute the rule of law. These three factors working together increase the likelihood of violence, crime and destabilization generally. In such situations collective actors often resort to the employment of private military forces. The concept of 'paramilitary force' is vague and at times highly subjective. The sparse literature on paramilitaries fails to capture the institutional variation found among these armed groups. Consequently, it has also failed to analyze how paramilitaries as institutions produce differing political outcomes. Employing theoretical models from peace/conflict studies as well as principle-agency theory, we argue for a new focus on properly conceptualizing what it means to label organizations as paramilitaries. We create four distinct categories of armed actors based on two dimensions: 1) the purpose and orientation of the armed group and 2) the security provision the armed group provides. The purpose of this paper is to call for an end to the conceptual stretching of the term paramilitary. In addition, the typology offered provides those in both scholarship and policymaking additional leverage on explaining the differing aims and components of armed groups.

Keywords: Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Concept Formation, Typology, Civil Military Relations

Suggested Citation

Esparza, Diego and Prather, Michael, 'Private Armies, Public Costs: A Typological Theory of Armed Groups' (March 31, 2010). Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580317

Diego Esparza (Contact Author)

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science ( email )

900 University Avenue
Riverside, CA 92521
United States

Michael Prather

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
158
Abstract Views
1,147
rank
217,941
PlumX Metrics