How does the political environment that a group operates affect whether they engage in terrorism? My research is concerned with how political opportunities, which I conceptualize in terms of political decentralization, affect how groups engage with the state, and whether they will engage in terrorism. Previous research has indicated that decentralization can reduce violence but can pose stability problems in other countries. I hypothesize that states with higher levels of decentralization will have lower levels of violence. I believe this works by allowing minority groups more access to power. Because they have access to political power, there is less incentive to use violence to achieve their political goals. This project is tested with a large-N study of democratic countries. I also engaged in two case studies focused on Northern Ireland and Spain, looking at the IRA and ETA, respectively. These two case studies trace the effect of changing levels of centralization on the behavior of minority groups. This study finds that political opportunities often lead to less violence in the long-term. Decentralization is one way of achieving this. However, sometimes decentralization may not work because it could take away rights from minorities; while in other cases, even after decentralization begins to take place, it can take a while for changes to take hold. Both the Northern Ireland and Spanish cases show that it is not always so simple as just saying decentralization will take place, or that it has begun.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Norat, Alexander, "Decentralization and Violence" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1418.