1st Edition

Social Movements and Civil War When Protests for Democratization Fail

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization.

    The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements’ struggles for democracy end up in civil war. While the empirical evidence suggests that this is not a rare phenomenon, the literatures on social movements, democratization and civil wars have grown apart from each other. At the theoretical level, Social Movements and Civil War bridges insights in the three fields, looking in particular at explanations of the radicalization of social movements, the failure of democratization processes and the onset of civil war. In doing this, it builds upon the relational approach developed in contentious politics with the aim of singling out robust causal mechanisms. At the empirical level, the research provides in-depth descriptions of four cases of trajectory from social movements for democratization into civil wars: in Syria, Libya, Yemen and the former Yugoslavia. Conditions such as the double weakness of civil society and the state, the presence of entrepreneurs of violence as well as normative and material resources for violence, ethnic and tribal divisions, domestic and international military interventions are considered as influencing the chains of actors’ choices rather than as structural determinants.

    This book will be of great interest to students of civil wars, political violence, social movements, democratization, and IR in general.

    1. Social movements in civil wars: An introduction, Donatella della Porta

    2. Causal mechanisms in civil wars: A sensitizing map, Donatella della Porta

    3. Beyond Syria: Civil society in failed episodes of democratization, Teije Hidde Donker

    4. The failure of Libyan political transition and the descent into civil war, Emin Poljarevic

    5. Yemen’s failed transition: From peaceful protests to war of ‘all against all’, Bogumila Hall

    6. Yugoslavia: From social movement to state movement to civil war, Daniel P. Ritter

    7. Social movements, democratization, and civil wars: some conclusions, Donatella della Porta


    Donatella della Porta is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, Italy.

    Teije Hidde Donker is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen, Norway.

    Bogumila Hall has a PhD in Sociology from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy.

    Emin Poljarevic is a PDRA Research Fellow at Qatar University.

    Daniel P. Ritter is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Stockholm University, Sweden.

    'Social Movements and Civil War is an ambitious and exceptionally original book. It analyses four cases of civil war through the prism of contentious politics and pushes our understanding of political violence forward significantly through the authors' imaginative use of the analytical concepts and tools of social movement research.' -- Niall Ó Dochartaigh, National University of Ireland

    'Many studies have tried to explain why nonviolent movements for democratization in authoritarian states succeed, yet much less attention has been paid to the mechanisms through which such democratic uprisings fail. This timely and important book looks into a particularly alarming type of failure: escalation into civil war. Studying the causal mechanisms in nonviolent social movements’ path to large scale political violence, the authors provide new empirical insights and a theoretical understanding of failed movement-driven democratization processes. This new book employs a compelling dynamic approach that seeks to move beyond the unfruitful dichotomy between structural and agency-based explanations which has, for too long, permeated research on nonviolent uprisings.' -- Isak Svensson, Uppsala University, Sweden

    'As mass uprisings in key Arab states have escalated into vicious and obdurate civil wars, this volume could not be timelier. Social Movements and Civil War is the first major work that comprehensively bridges Social Movement Theory with the study of civil war. It draws on theoretical rigor and deep empirical insights, providing sophisticated analyses of the wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen and former Yugoslavia. This book is sure to become a major reference work for those grappling with the tragedy of democratic aspirations degenerating into large-scale violence.' -- Reinoud Leenders, King’s College London, UK