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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Social Control Theory: Bridging the Information-Violence Gap: How Can Information Provision Affect States' Tendency Toward Violence Against Civilians?
by Erenler, Muhammed, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2017, 220; 10618738
Abstract (Summary)

Whether the initiators are government states or rebel groups, sustained and systematic violence against civilians is a regular feature of intrastate warfare. However, especially in recent years, the barbaric atrocities of rebel groups such as ISIS, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and the Al Nusra Front have largely overshadowed the ruthless massacres initiated by so-called “legitimate” states. Even though such actors may at times find independent sources of revenue from external patrons, trans-border outlets, or ethnic kin, civilian support (e.g., food, shelter, weapons, refuge, and recruits) is often necessary to sustain a military effort in a civil war. The question, then, is if civilian support is important, why would states – seemingly irrationally – kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

This study seeks to answer this question. In this research, I argue that “social control” over the population offers the potential to dramatically change the environment in which all of the actors (the government, rebel groups, and civilians) live, facilitating an end to the civil war, or at least alleviating some of its negative consequences. Ever-growing surveillance and dataveillance practices make this social control possible. When civilians believe that they are being closely watched by their government (and might be punished for real or perceived disobedience), they instinctively refrain from behaviors they believe might incite the government to use violence, which in turn leads states to perpetrate less violence against civilians. For the state, this environment of constant surveillance and the information it yields substantially affect the level of virtual control that can be exerted, thereby reducing the amount of violence the state needs to initiate.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kathman, Jacob D.
Commitee: DANILOVIC, Vesna, ZAGARE, Frank C.
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, Political science, Sociology
Keywords: ArcGIS, Civil wars, Nighttime light, Panopticon, Social control theory, Violence against civilians
Publication Number: 10618738
ISBN: 978-0-355-30972-0
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