Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why is communal violence more likely to erupt during regime transitions?

In a working paper by Kristine Eck and Joakim Kreutz, the authors argue that regime transitions function as a window of opportunity for communal leaders to exploit the decreased deterrent capacity of the state:

"In such periods, the state is less able to contain the problems of communal opportunism that are otherwise restricted by the threat of punishment from formal institutions or in-group policing structures. We suggest that this problem will be particularly acute for regimes transitioning away from autocracy; when excessive force is the norm, anything less is seen as a signal of institutional weakness. Other research on communal violence between Muslims and Hindus in neighboring India support the idea that state incentives to punish perpetrators is essential to understanding the intensity of communal violence."