Why do some countries experience civil war and other countries do not?

Your assignment is to submit two things:

1) A revision of this research question in which you alter the unit of analysis. This means your submission should begin with a question very similar to the question above but with one key change or clarification. Your question should be 15-50 words.

2) A paragraph-long explanation that does three things: 1) clearly indicates the political or social outcome that the question is asking about (the dependent variable) and the political or social factor that the question suggests is related to that outcome (the independent variable); 2) explains the basic logic of how the factor leads to the outcome; and 3) provides a way to measure both the outcome and the factor leading to it. Your explanation should be 200-400 words.


1. If the degree of political freedom (independent variable) at the national level is related to the outbreaks of civil wars (dependent variable) across countries, then civil wars are more likely to happen among populations within a country that perceive themselves to have lower levels of political freedom than the rest of the country.

2. When I switch my unit of analysis to evaluating phenomena that happens at the country level to the individual level, I think the variation in the occurrence of civil war at the country level is caused by high concentrations of individuals who perceive themselves to have low levels of political freedom, such as religious conservatism that may be persecuted by a central state. Religion can be defined as collective belief system that deals with the relationship of the individual to the supernatural being. In addition to structuring the relationship between the divine and human, it often regulates many aspects of life, including the relationship between leader or state and people in social, economic, and political dimensions. If individuals within a country believe that their ability to practice their religion will come into conflict with the goals of the central state, they may fear or experience repression as a result and may be willing to fight to preserve or gain religious freedom.

For example, Islam is one of religions in the world and the dominant religion in Indonesia. The Muslim community in Indonesia, however, is not monolithic. Some of them follow a more conservative outlook of Islam, such as the majority of the province of Aceh, who want traditional Islamic law (or sharia) to be practiced in the rest of the nation. Others, such as the majority of those from the Javanese ethnicity, follow a more secular form of Islam. The Acehnese then felt that they were not part of Indonesia and cannot withstand the secular practice compared to the religious law they believe in. Therefore, they launched civil war against the national government for more than 30 years.

To test this claim that individual level variation in perception of political freedom may drive where and when civil war breaks out in a country, I would run an experiment involving Muslim university students. I will ask them to answer hypothetical questions about their perception of their level of political freedom, such as religious freedom, and their willingness to participate in civil war. If my theory is correct, there should be congruence between perceptions of low political freedom and the desire to participate in civil war.


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