Genocide as Contentious Politics

  • Collective Action, Social Movements, and Genocide
  • Aliza Luft
  • Sociology Compass, October 2015, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/soc4.12304

Genocide as Contentious Politics

What is it about?

This paper is about how and in what ways research on genocide can be incorporated into the contentious politics paradigm of research. After briefly reviewing the history of convergence and divergence of scholarship on genocide with research on collective action and social movements, the paper then suggests three micro-mobilization mechanisms -- framing, diffusion, and networks -- and details how consideration of these processes might refine existing explanations of civilian participation in genocide.

Why is it important?

In recent years, there have been consistent and sustained efforts to re-introduce scholarship on genocide into the social sciences. Much of this work has taken place in political science, and the work that exists in sociology is still unclear on where or how to situate research about mass violence. This paper matters because it explains processes of genocidal violence as part of the family of "contentious politics," a concept pioneered by McAdam et al. (1996, 2001), Tilly and Tarrow (2006), Tarrow (1989, 2011) and Tilly (2003, 2005) in earlier work. By situating genocide in the field of contentious politics, I suggest that more fruitful analyses can take place, particularly through the consideration of processes common to other forms of mobilization (i.e. framing or networks). A contentious politics approach to genocide would consider it one form of collective action among others, analyzable within the existing framework of collective action and social movement theory.

Read Publication

The following have contributed to this page: Ms Aliza Luft