Peace to Violence: Explaining the Violent Escalation of Nonviolent Demonstrations Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Gustafson, Daniel
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Under what conditions do nonviolent demonstrations escalate to violence? I answer this question using a novel theory of individual preference formation in protests that begin peacefully. Rather than considering protest groups as unitary actors, I present a theory of collective action in which a group's decision is the product of a probabilistic aggregation of individual preferences. I argue that individuals involved in a nonviolent demonstration use the immediacy of their needs and the sustainability of collective action to decide whether or not to initiate violence against the state. Specifically, I hypothesize that the likelihood of violent escalation will increase when the relative food price is high, a demonstration is rural, and the event is spontaneous. An analysis of nonviolent demonstrations in Africa and Latin America largely supports my expectations.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Bapat, Navin
  • Gent, Stephen
  • Crescenzi, Mark J. C.
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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