I am proposing to research intraethnic conflict because I want to find out what explains the different rates of violence in intraethnic conflict in order to help my reader better understand how intraethnic conflict might be mitigated or enhanced by different political, social, and economic factors.
To posit my puzzle as a large-n statistical question: What explains the variation of violence, or lack thereof, in intra-ethnic conflict?
While his article does not include a large-n data set, Brown creates a theoretical framework that can easilybe applied to a dataset.  Brown lists 12 possible factors that may create interethnic conflict: weak states, intra-state security concerns, ethnic geography, discriminatory political institutions, exclusionary national ideologies, inter-group politics, elite politics, economic problems, discriminatory economic systems, economic development and modernization, patterns of cultural discrimination, and problematic group histories. In putting these factors within the context of a large-n statistical analysis, I would make these factors nominal independent variables. In creating my own data set I would get rid of “ethnic geography” since within intraethnic conflict there are no “ethnic” differences. I would also most likely make some variables more operational such as the degree to which there is economic development, not if it’s there or not. I would probably do the same with “weak states,” Another nominal variable I would add is external involvement in the area and break it down by economic, military, and political aid or intervention.
The dependent variable is intraethnic conflict occurring. To operationalize the variable, I would make it nominal by marking 1, 2, or 3 to denote non-violent conflict, semi-violent conflict, and violent conflict in each of my cases. I would then analyze patterns of the independent variables to see how the dependent variable is effected. Something I’d be particularly interested in analyzing is if there is an overbearing factor in every violent conflict, or if it’s rather that violence is a result only when there are x amount of factors involved.
The coverage of this dataset would include different intraethnic conflicts around the world, no matter the region in which they are taking place. The limitations of the data set is that with so many independent variables, there might not be data on every single variable for every case.
I’m excited to explore my puzzle from the neo-positivist lens for I have only been thinking about it from the interpretivist perspective.
- Michael E. Brown. “The Causes of Internal Conflict” in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Revised Edition, eds. Michael E. Brown, Owen R. Cote, Jr., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, & Steven E. Miller (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 5-13.
- Ibid, 5.
Brown, Michael E. “The Causes of Internal Conflict” in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Revised Edition, eds. Michael E. Brown, Owen R. Cote, Jr., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, & Steven E. Miller, 3-25. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001.