Campus Units

Political Science

Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date

2016

Journal or Book Title

Journal of Peace Research

Volume

53

Issue

5

First Page

665

Last Page

679

DOI

10.1177/0022343316642509

Abstract

This article takes a game-theoretic and latent variable approach to modeling the effect of international social hierarchies on conflict among states. I start with the premise that international states are social actors and are nested within informal social networks of friendly and conflictual relationships. Rather than lateral relationships among equals, networks among states tend to have a vertical or hierarchical structure. Although international hierarchical relationships may arise as a result of material power asymmetries, this article focuses on non-material asymmetries that stem from political legitimacy or policy innovation – a subject that has received less attention in scholarly research. I argue that, within these hierarchies, states adopt one of two roles – a dominant or a subordinate. Each resulting (dyadic) dominant–subordinate relationship is a social contract, in which the subordinate concedes some autonomy in exchange for the dominant’s protection. This social hierarchy affects the relationships among subordinates, as well as between a dominant and subordinates. The model predicts that a state’s degree of subordination reduces its probability of conflict initiation against other subordinates. Moreover, the decision to initiate conflict is influenced by the expectation that the dominant will intervene, which itself is affected by the target’s relative level of subordination to the dominant vis-à-vis the challenger. These predictions are supported by empirical analyses of the US hierarchy (1950–2000).

Comments

This is a manuscript of an article from Journal of Peace Research 53 (2016): 665, DOI: 10.1177/0022343316642509. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

The Authors

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

Published Version

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