Secondary mobilization: The spread of political violence within and across borders

Why are some civil wars and terrorist campaigns more devastating across time and space than others? Scholars have found the number of different actors involved matters, but we know little about the mobilization of new actors when violence already is underway. The purpose of this project is to investigate why and how new actors emerge after violence has started in some contexts, but not others.

Our theory on so-called secondary mobilization explore this phenomenon as linked to existing violence, but understood by on a different logic than the original rebellion. We combine insights from reputational learning and social mobilization to explain how fear of future attacks shapes the formation of communities at risk for forming militias and individual’s decision to mobilize for violence.

The observable implication is that secondary mobilization occur following threats towards

(i)    individuals and/or
(ii)    self-defined communities.

The project will globally explore second generation militias and terrorists both within and across conflict borders through linkages of displacement (individual threat) and attacks on spaces of symbolic importance like religious and cultural heritage sites (communal threat).The project is novel in that it looks at inter- and intra-state contagion, it focuses on rebel groups, terrorists, and pro-government militias, it contextualizes ethnic and other communal identities, and it focuses on the processes of group formation rather than only its consequences.

Principal Investigator: Joakim Kreutz (Department of Government)

Period: 1 January 2021–31 December 2024

Funding: SEK 5 894 166 from the Swedish Research Council

Joakim Kreutz

Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Department of Government, Faculty

Mobile phone:
+46 70 2882762
Last modified: 2021-12-14