Fight or Flight: A Micro-Level Analysis of Demobilization in the Democratic Republic of Congo

41 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 25 Aug 2012

See all articles by Joanne Richards

Joanne Richards

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Why do some combatants leave armed groups and demobilize while others fight on? The existing literature on demobilization after civil war often treats armed groups as unitary actors. Here I study the internal organization of five armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and examine the micro-level dynamics of demobilization both during and immediately after civil war. Drawing on existing theories of collective action I present eight individual-level mechanisms explaining demobilization and sustained participation in armed groups. I argue that these motivationally-based mechanisms are incomplete explanations owing to their neglect of organizational constraints. To illustrate this I apply a micro-comparative method to data collected from a combination of in-depth interviews and informal conversations with former combatants in North Kivu province. The analysis shows how intra-group monitoring and punishment (“in-group policing”) can sustain participation and deter demobilization among combatants with privately held preferences for exit.

Suggested Citation

Richards, Joanne, Fight or Flight: A Micro-Level Analysis of Demobilization in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2104682

Joanne Richards (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

Rue de Lausanne 132
P.O. Box 136
Geneva, 1211
Switzerland

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