Title

From disaffection to desertion: How networks facilitate military insubordination in civil conflict

Author's Department

Political Science Department

Find in your Library

https://doi.org/10.5129/001041516819197601

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Comparative Politics

Publication Date

7-1-2016

doi

10.5129/001041516819197601

Abstract

Scholarship on intrastate conflict and civil-military relations has largely ignored individual desertions during civil war. We show that high-risk behavior, such as desertion, is best thought of as coordinated action between individual decision-makers and their strong network ties. Soldiers hold preexisting opinions on whether high-risk action is worthwhile, but it is their networks that persuade them to act. Specifically, it is the content of strong network ties (rather than their mere existence) and the ability to interpret information (rather than the presence of information), which helps explain individual action under extreme risk. Our thick empirical narrative is based on substantial fieldwork on the Syrian conflict and contributes to debates on military cohesion, intrastate conflict trajectories, and the power of networks in catalyzing high-risk behavior.

First Page

439

Last Page

457

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