Accepted paper:

"I am used to many soldiers." Does external military intervention push civilians towards violence?


Anouk Rigterink (University of Oxford)
Mareike Schomerus (Overseas Development Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Using longitudinal multi-method research from two counties in South Sudan, this paper exploits whether permanent exposure to military intervention changes how people think about violence and react to conflict.

Paper long abstract:

For civilians in the south-western part of South Sudan, military intervention through the presence of foreign armies, such as Ugandan, US or other AU forces, has been part of life for the past ten years. The experience has been mixed: The military presence was both reassuring and threatening—yet how it influenced civilians' choices towards violent or peaceful behaviour is unclear. This paper asks: Does permanent exposure to military intervention change how people think about violence and react to conflict? Do military interventions contribute to a militarisation of civilians, in the sense that it supports a belief in a conflict society that an improvement of the conflict situation will come only through force? This paper uses longitudinal multi-method research to answer these questions. Exploiting a difference-in-difference design using panel data gathered in 2013 and 2015 in two counties in South Sudan including village-fixed effects, the paper investigates whether a decrease in visible presence of external armed forces is related to a decrease in militarization and/or an increase in everyday security. The former is measured by support for violence as a means to solve conflict, the latter by individual exposure to violence and perceived safety during every-day activities. Qualitative longitudinal data is used to examine how civilians over years are describing their attitudes and reactions to the military presence.

panel P050
A bottom-up perspective on military intervention in fragile states