Civil War and Citizens' Demand for the State: An Empirical Test of Hobbesian Theory

67 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2019 Last revised: 21 Apr 2020

See all articles by Robert Blair

Robert Blair

Brown University; Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Date Written: April 20, 2020

Abstract

How does violence during civil war shape citizens' demand for state-provided security, especially in settings where non-state actors compete with the state for citizens' loyalties? I draw on Hobbesian theory to argue that in post-conflict countries, citizens who were more severely victimized by wartime violence should substitute away from localized authorities and towards centralized ones, especially the state. I test the theory by combining two original surveys with existing NGO and media data on wartime violence in Liberia. I show that citizens who were more severely affected by violence during the Liberian civil war were more likely to demand state-provided security in the post-conflict period, both in absolute terms and relative to non-state alternatives. More sporadic collective violence in the post-conflict period does not reverse this substitution effect. Also consistent with Hobbesian theory, citizens who were more severely victimized were more fearful of threats to peace almost a decade later.

Keywords: civil wars, violence, peacebuilding, statebuilding, Hobbes, Africa

Suggested Citation

Blair, Robert, Civil War and Citizens' Demand for the State: An Empirical Test of Hobbesian Theory (April 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3406566 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3406566

Robert Blair (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

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