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A Causal Model of Civil Strife: A Comparative Analysis Using New Indices1

  • Ted Gurr (a1)

This article describes some results of a successful attempt to assess and refine a causal model of the general conditions of several forms of civil strife, using cross-sectional analyses of data collected for 114 polities. The theoretical argument, which is discussed in detail elsewhere, stipulates a set of variables said to determine the likelihood and magnitude of civil strife. Considerable effort was given here to devising indices that represent the theoretical variables more closely than the readily-available aggregate indices often used in quantitative cross-national research. One consequence is an unusually high degree of statistical explanation: measures of five independent variables jointly account for two-thirds of the variance among nations in magnitude of civil strife (R = .80, R2 = .64).

It should be noted at the outset that this study does not attempt to isolate the set of conditions that leads specifically to “revolution,” nor to assess the social or political impact of any given act of strife except as that impact is reflected in measures of “magnitude” of strife. The relevance of this kind of research to the classic concern of political scholarship with revolution is its attempt at identification and systematic analysis of conditions that dispose men to strife generally, revolution included.

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This is a revised version of a paper read at the 1967 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 5–9 The research was supported in part by the Center for Research in Social Systems (formerly SORO), The American University, and by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense. This support implies neither sponsor approval of this article and its conclusions nor the author's approval of policies of the U.S. government toward civil strife. The assistance of Charles Ruttenberg throughout the process of research design, data collection, and analysis is gratefully acknowledged. Substantial portions of the data were collected by Joel Prager and Lois Wasser-spring. The author owes special thanks to Harry Eckstein for his advice and encouragement. Bruce M. Russett and Raymond Tanter provided useful criticisms of the paper in draft form. Research was carried out at the Center of International Studies, Princeton University.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Bruce M. Russett , “Inequality and Instability: The Relation of Land Tenure to Politics,” World Politics, 16 (April 1964), 442454

Raymond B. Nixon , “Freedom in the World's Press: A Fresh Appraisal With New Data,” Journalism Quarterly (Winter 1965), 314

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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