Prewar Domestic Conditions and Civilians in War

H. Zeynep Bulutgil, Arjona Ana, Balcells Laia, Finkel Evgeny, Steele Abbey, Straus Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the past fifteen years, the study of civilians in war (i.e., violence against civilians as well as civilian strategies for survival during wars) has emerged as a research agenda separate from the study of the causes of wars. Up to now, this research agenda has largely been dominated by studies that emphasize the military balance of power or the nature of material resources available to the fighting parties. The books under review in this article push the literature on civilians in war significantly forward by focusing on prewar social, political, and institutional factors. Based on the findings of the books, this review essay identifies three such factors. First, the organizational skills that civilian leaders develop in the prewar period shape resistance against military actors during wars. Second, political party affiliation, revealed through prewar elections, influences the patterns of violence against civilians during wars. Finally, the dominant state ideology that precedes wars can impact both civilian victimization and the extent to which civilians can evade such violence. The article both assesses the books' contributions and offers ways in which these contributions can be refined by future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-541
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • civilian victimization
  • domestic conditions
  • mass violence
  • resistance in war
  • violence in war

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Safety Research


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