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Recognizing Patterns of Anomie that Set the Conditions for Insurgency

This project seeks to identify potential interrelations between anomie— the loss of compelling norms that enable populations to meaningfully interpret social change — and the support of and participation in non-state armed groups.


PI: Karen Guttieri, GPPAG
Curt Blais, MOVES
Niklaus Eggengerber, Swiss Academy for Development
Jack Jackson, TRAC Monterey
Robert Shearer, OR
Sponsor: Office of Naval Research

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this project is to better understand and depict how social unrest leads to insurgencies in order to develop better decision making options.  This work will better prepare civilian and military decision-making for future insurgencies in places of unrest by compiling scientific evidence for cause-targeted interventions aimed at anticipating and mitigating societal disorder. If instability-related patterns and risks of societal disorder are to be detected and reversed in time, it is crucial to perform an in-depth assessment of invisible but measurable attitudes that precede subsequently observable patterns of behavior. We seek to detect relevant correlations and interactions between social change and societal disorder at an early stage, as well as to identify the potential for sustainable operational interventions.

SUMMARY: Given the global impact of the economic, political and environmental change that leads to anomie, the requirement for effective governance based upon sound social contracts, and the destructive tools at the disposal of terrorists, it is vital to develop understanding about the mechanisms by which structures and levels of anomie within a society produce violent effects more generally. Integrative work across levels will provide both empirical and methodological contributions to conflict prevention and mitigation.   We will conduct a global analysis of patterns of anomie that lead to insurgency, conducted at the nation-state level with variational analysis. First, we aim to refine the anomie survey in relation to our dependent variable.  We will collect macro-level data in and on contexts where we conduct an empirical survey, to identify trigger events and anomie-insurgency dynamics in contexts that are comparable, with the intention to establish a structured comparison of culturally different settings macro-level data with empirical micro-level research in future. Macro-level data collection informs micro-level survey for identifying hypothesis, defining variables, and possible interrelations to assess.

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