The Importance of Context When Comparing Civil Wars

William Reno*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Comparisons of civil wars based on attention to contextual categories do a better job of conceptualising key variables such as ethnic identity, resources, armed group membership, and concepts such as rebellion and negotiation than do studies based on large data sets and methodological individualism. This article shows how important variables and concepts apply in ways that are particular to conflicts that follow the collapse of centralised authority based on personalist networks. Comparisons with civil wars in highly bureaucratised states highlight these differences, and illustrate fallacies of assuming that variables and concepts transcend the broad historical sweep of civil wars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-467
Number of pages20
JournalCivil Wars
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

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