Framing Threat, Mobilizing Violence. Micro-Mechanisms of Conflict Escalation in Yemen

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2018
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Politikwissenschaft
Advisor: Hasenclever, Andreas (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2016-05-31
DDC Classifikation: 300 - Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
320 - Political science
Keywords: Jemen , Konflikt , Anṣār Allāh , Frame <Journalismus>
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Why do some opposition movements escalate into armed conflict while others perdure non-violently under very similar conditions? In order to account for this variance, the dissertation proposes to transcend the limitations of existing structural theories within civil war studies by including the ‘framing approach’ as developed in social movement studies. Focusing on the cognitive level, this approach accentuates and elucidates the agency component and the interactive dynamics of the construction and negotiation of meaning which remain a ‘black box’ in current models. Shared meaning, which is constructed by collective action frames (i.e. schemata of interpretation) ̵̶ so the core argument ̵̶ mediates between structural conditions and collective action. These frames are developed, communicated, and contested by leaders, and fulfil a diagnostic, a prognostic, and a motivational function: They define a problem, suggest a pathway towards a solution (i.e. violent or non-violent), and mobilize followers. Depending on their content and their successful resonance among movement adherents, corresponding strategies are taken up. Within a most-similar case design, the dissertation analyzes two political movements in contemporary Yemen: The so-called ‘Houthis’ in the North of the country, who led a rebellion between 2004 and 2015, and the ‘Hirak’ movement in Southern Yemen, which since 2006 has been pursuing a strategy of non-violence in its struggle for independence. Embedded in an in-depth contextualization of the respective movements’ origins and the general conditions, the dissertation identifies and describes the respective collective action frames, establishes why and how strategic movement actors constructed them in their specific particularity, and relates this to the question of why constituents take certain forms of action. The findings assert the theoretical contribution of an integrative approach: It could be established how under conditions which would have allowed for armed conflict in both cases, distinct collective action frames led to the observed differences in behavior between the two movements. Solely on the basis of established structural approaches of civil war studies, this variation would have remained obscure. The inclusion of a framing perspective into a model of conflict escalation therefore proves rewarding. The Digital Appendix can be requested from the author.

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