Violent Non State Actors: Violence, Crime and Conflict
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
07 August 2019
Requisites for this module
BA L250 International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA L258 International Relations,
BA L259 International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA L260 International Relations (Including Placement Year),
BA L150 Political Economics,
BA L151 Political Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BA L152 Political Economics (Including Placement Year)
While political science scholarship has studied non-state actors more extensively, the world of violent non-state actors has only recently received attention and interest among academics and policy circles. Given the rise of groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, the focus on violent non-state actors has become more and more important.
This module focuses on the political science literature on violent non-state actors. The module examines why non-state actors resort to violence and crime, what tactics and strategies they use, how they fund their existence, how they undermine the state and what can be done to counter the instability they cause. The module will examine the objectives of these organizations, what their mobilization strategies are and what often constitutes their support base. The module with give a thorough overview of not only the world of violent non-state actors but also the political, economic, geographical and regional environments which help to explain their strength.
The module aims to introduce students to violent non-state actors such as warlords, terrorist and insurgent groups, paramilitary groups, private security companies, rebel and youth organizations, gangs and organized crime. The module presents the basic theoretical and empirical findings in the literature on violent non-state actors and defines the key variables, in order to better understand how to conduct research in this area. Though the module is theoretically driven, it will also focus on non-state actors in West and East Africa, Latin America, the Levant, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Students will understand what factors are conducive to the emergence of violent non-state actors, the regional dynamics that explain their persistence and why they are so challenging to the modern state.
By the end of the module students will be able to:
• Think critically about the emergence of violent non-state actors within a broad historical & comparative perspective;
• Develop a more comprehensive understanding and familiarity of what violent non-state actors are and the main theoretical and empirical contributions of this new field;
• Identify how violent non-state actors pose challenges to the state and how the state is able to respond to these challenges.
• Identify the political, historical and socio-economic roots of violent non-state actors;
• Communicate clear and well-researched observations about the substantive questions raised in the module.
No additional information available.
1 x 1 hour seminar and 1 x 1 hour class per week
- Arjona, Ana. (©2016) Rebelocracy: social order in the Colombian civil war, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
- Kimberly Marten. (no date) 'Warlordism in Comparative Perspective', in International Security: The MIT Press.
- Phillips, Brian J. (2015) 'How does leadership decapitation affect violence? The case of drug trafficking organizations in Mexico', in The Journal of Politics. vol. 77 (2) , pp.324-336
- Makarenko, Tamara. (2004-02) 'The Crime-Terror Continuum: Tracing the Interplay between Transnational Organised Crime and Terrorism', in Global Crime. vol. 6 (1) , pp.129-145
- Cruz, José Miguel; Durán-Martínez, Angélica. (2016-03) 'Hiding violence to deal with the state', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 53 (2) , pp.197-210
- Arana, Ana. (2005) 'How the Street Gangs Took Central America', in Foreign Affairs. vol. 84 (3) , pp.98-
- Leander, Anna. (2005) 'The Market for Force and Public Security: The Destabilizing Consequences of Private Military Companies', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 42 (5) , pp.605-622
- Varese, Federico. (2010) Organized crime: critical concepts in criminology, London: Routledge.
- Phillips, Brian J. (2015-01) 'Enemies with benefits? Violent rivalry and terrorist group longevity', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 52 (1) , pp.62-75
- Phillips, Brian J. (2015-04) 'How Does Leadership Decapitation Affect Violence? The Case of Drug Trafficking Organizations in Mexico', in The Journal of Politics. vol. 77 (2) , pp.324-336
- Marten, Kimberly. (2006/2007) 'Warlordism in Comparative Perspective', in International Security. vol. 31 (3) , pp.41-73
- Staniland, Paul. (2017-07) 'Armed politics and the study of intrastate conflict', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 54 (4) , pp.459-467
- Ezrow, Natasha M. (2017) Global politics and violent non-state actors, London: Sage.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Critical Article Comparison
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Brian Phillips, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Natasha Ezrow plus Teaching Assistants
Module Supervisor: Brian Phillips email@example.com
Module Administrator: Lewis Olley firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb
University College London
Available via Moodle
Of 80 hours, 78 (97.5%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
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