Poverty and Conflict

Watching rehearsal (c) Zoe Marks
Watching rehearsal, Lagos, Nigeria (c) Zoe Marks

Now available: Read my open source overview of key issues in poverty and conflict research.

Funded by the ESRC-DFID Poverty Alleviation Research scheme, this research focuses on the economic and social-political power of armed group participants during and after war. The project aims to bridge the gap between explanatory theories of conflict participation and the growing empirical research on post-conflict development. It does so by measuring subjective and objective experiences of empowerment and disempowerment at the individual and household levels, and how they change over time in war and peacetime context.

Often, the same structural inequalities that spur participation in violence are also compounded by victimization. The research thus investigates how differences between individuals’ wartime and peacetime opportunities and experiences affect their reintegration, their incentives to revert to violence, and, ultimately, their pathways out of poverty. Particular attention will be given to gender relations, military organizational structures, and social networks. By better understanding the varied experiences of moving from war to peace, we hope to improve peace building and security sector reform interventions, as well as poverty alleviation efforts in conflict-affected societies.

By connecting war-making and peacemaking processes at the individual and group levels, this project has two aims. First, to systematically examine the economic and social-organizational dynamics and implications of participating in war. Second, to apply that knowledge to understanding post-conflict poverty, particularly for ex-combatants at risk of remobilization. It utilizes quantitative survey research, social network analysis, and in-depth interviews across three cases: Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

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