Edited by Paul Jackson
Chapter 2: On the nature of disagreements regarding the causes of civil war
As with many contentious issues, there is a ‘Rashomon’ effect governing perceptions about the causes of violent internal conflict in developing countries, and its dominant form, civil war. Different analytical perspectives and theoretical biases engender disagreements about the various factors that concatenate to produce civil war and mass violence in developing countries. The disagreements tend to centre on the relative importance of inequality (or grievances), the desire to control contestable resource rents (or greed) and weak state capacity (or state failure). In reality, all three may simultaneously co-exist, and the relative weight of any of these factors may alter as individual conflicts evolve.In the context of disagreements about the nature of development, Kanbur (2001) points out that many of the differences stem from variable units of analysis, as well as disciplinary orientations (economics or rational choice approaches versus the other social sciences). For example, economic growth may have taken place in the aggregate national economy raising per capita income for the country as a whole. But in certain geographical regions or in some economic sectors average income may have declined. Even when poverty declines at the national level, it may rise in certain areas. Thus, to the analyst of a deprived region, progress at the national level seems somewhat hollow. More importantly, to the analyst of the deprived region there is development failure; to those interpreting aggregate national data successful development appears to have taken place.
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