The Young and the Restless: Dynamics of Violent Youth Mobilization in Sri Lanka and Nicaragua, 1960-2010

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The Young and the Restless: Dynamics of Violent Youth Mobilization in Sri Lanka and Nicaragua, 1960-2010

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dc.contributor.advisor Richardson, John M en_US
dc.contributor.author Hamilton, Mark David en_US
dc.contributor.other Abu-Nimer, Mohammed en_US
dc.contributor.other Gallaher, Carolyn en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2012-08-22T15:01:03Z
dc.date.available 2012-08-22T15:01:03Z
dc.date.created 2012 en_US
dc.date.issued 2012-08-22
dc.identifier.other Hamilton_american_0008E_10235 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1961/11041
dc.description Degree awarded: Ph.D. School of International Service. American University en_US
dc.description.abstract What are the factors that motivate youth to take up arms and mobilize in organized violence? That is the central question of this project, applied to two case contexts, Sri Lanka and Nicaragua. The project's integrative system dynamics methodology synthesizes competing causal explanations that are often considered in isolation within the literature. Three mechanisms are hypothesized to influence the "attractiveness" of armed mobilization for at-risk youth sectors: 1) Groups and Identity; 2) Grievances and (Perceived) Injustice; and 3) Greed and Incentives, with expected shifts across time and institutional context. Causal loop diagrams communicate the model's conceptual framework, key variable relationships, and interactive feedback effects across mechanisms. For purposes of testing, the model is contextualized to initial values for both cases, simulated across time (1960-2010), and then examined against the available empirical data for Sri Lanka and Nicaragua. Case illustrative narratives link quantitative and qualitative analysis of violent mobilization (and demobilization) for targeted historical periods. In Sri Lanka, analysis highlights the relative "attractiveness" for Sinhalese young people joining armed insurrections of the JVP (the "People's Liberation Front", a radical Maoist group with Buddhist roots), or for young Tamils joining ethno-nationalist armed groups such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In Nicaragua, model analysis traces the "attractiveness" of youth joining Marxist-nationalist Sandinista revolutionaries in the 1970s, with counter-revolutionary Contra forces in the 1980s, and fragmented neighborhood gangs from 1990. Project results show strong correspondence between the applied model simulations and the case historical record, for estimating the number of youth militants and their period-specific causal factor explanations. Model "leverage points" are highlighted across both cases, and then applied to a shadow case study (Israel-Palestine) as a proof-of-concept model extension (without simulation). From there, the text offers critical discussion of model limitations and potential extensions, and delineates key implications for policymaking, programming, and peacebuilding applications. The project concludes by highlighting the necessity of considering multiple causal explanations for a comprehensive understanding of armed youth mobilization. Moreover, it provides a systematic and rigorous framework to test these explanations' relative strength and their variance across time. en_US
dc.format.extent 387 p. en_US
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en_US
dc.publisher American University en_US
dc.subject International relations en_US
dc.subject Political Science en_US
dc.subject System science en_US
dc.subject.other civil wars en_US
dc.subject.other conflict analysis en_US
dc.subject.other Sandinistas en_US
dc.subject.other system dynamics en_US
dc.subject.other Tamil Tigers en_US
dc.subject.other youth gangs en_US
dc.title The Young and the Restless: Dynamics of Violent Youth Mobilization in Sri Lanka and Nicaragua, 1960-2010 en_US
dc.type Text en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US


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