Wartime civilian mobilisation

A dataset on nonviolent civilian action in rebel-held Côte d'Ivoire
Project description

Civilians sometimes seek to influence armed actors like governments or rebel groups by attending demonstrations, staging strikes, participating in rallies, or arranging sit-ins. However, in spite of recent attention to civilian agency in civil war, we lack the conceptual language to identify instances of wartime civilian mobilisation and classify the ways in which it varies. This study develops a conceptual framework that defines the broader concept of wartime civilian mobilisation, and emphasises how instances of civilian mobilisation in civil war can vary with regard to the organisers, targets, aims, and issues of civilian action. The framework helps scholars organising research on civilian agency in civil war, aids the identification of relevant comparisons, and raises new research questions. Moreover, the study demonstrates the utility of the conceptual framework by analysing acts of civilian mobilisation in rebel-held Côte d’Ivoire, drawing on a unique dataset of demonstrations, strikes, rallies, protest marches, and sit-ins. This analysis highlights that attention to wartime civilian mobilisation, and to variation in such mobilisation, provides a more nuanced understanding of the role of civilians in civil war. The study concludes by reflecting on the need for a research agenda on wartime civilian mobilisation, and by discussing how studying civilian action can shed new light on the dynamics of civil war and peace processes.