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Organizing Rebellion: Rethinking High-Risk Mobilization and Social Networks in War


Research on violent mobilization broadly emphasizes who joins rebellions and why, but neglects to explain the timing or nature of participation. Support and logistical apparatuses play critical roles in sustaining armed conflict, but scholars have not explained role differentiation within militant organizations or accounted for the structures, processes, and practices that produce discrete categories of fighters, soldiers, and staff. Extant theories consequently conflate mobilization and participation in rebel organizations with frontline combat. This article argues that, to understand wartime mobilization and organizational resilience, scholars must situate militants in their organizational and social context. By tracing the emergence and evolution of female-dominated clandestine supply, financial, and information networks in 1980s Lebanon, it demonstrates that mobilization pathways and organizational subdivisions emerge from the systematic overlap between formal militant hierarchies and quotidian social networks. In doing so, this article elucidates the nuanced relationship between social structure, militant organizations, and sustained rebellion.

Corresponding author
Sarah Elizabeth Parkinson is Assistant Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 300 Humphrey School, 301 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (
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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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