The Logic of Violence in Civil War

TitleThe Logic of Violence in Civil War
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsKalyvas, Stathis N.
Number of Pages485
PublisherCambridge University Press
CityCambridge, UK

By analytically decoupling war and violence, this book explores the causes and dynamics of violence in civil war. Against prevailing views that such violence is either the product of impenetrable madness or a simple way to achieve strategic objectives, the book demonstrates that the logic of violence in civil war has much less to do with collective emotions, ideologies, cultures, or "greed and grievance" than currently believed. The author distinguishes between indiscriminate and selective violence and specifies a novel theory of selective violence: it is jointly produced by political actors seeking information and individual noncombatants trying to avoid the worst but also grabbing what opportunities their predicament affords them. Violence, he finds, is never a simple reflection of the optimal strategy of its users; its profoundly interactive character defeats simple maximization logics while producing surprising outcomes, such as relative nonviolence in the 'frontlines' of civil war.

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