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Repressed productive potential and revolt: insights from an insurgency in Burundi

Cyrus Samii and Emily A. West

Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 1, 106-121

Abstract: The relationship between participation in revolt and individuals' economic conditions is among the most debated in political science. While conventional economic theory suggests that those who face the poorest economic prospects are most inclined to fight, extant evidence is decidedly mixed. We address this puzzling variation by analyzing the interplay between macro-structural conditions and individuals' micro-level circumstances. Under conditions of severe group repression, we show how a “glass-ceiling” logic may operate: among the repressed group, those with relatively high productive potential may be most motivated to revolt. We test this with in-depth analysis of participation in the 1993–2003 Burundian insurgency. The data are consistent with numerous implications of the glass-ceiling logic and inconsistent with extant alternative explanations.

Date: 2021
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