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The Power-law in Civil Wars: Exploring the Frequency and Size of Conventional Attacks and Battles
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2009 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The main purpose is to describe the frequency and size of attacks and battles in Liberia and Ivory Coast, from 2000 and 2002, respectively. This is done in order to determine if the frequency and size of the events are distributed as a power-law. A power-law is a fat-tailed distribution which features a so called scaling exponent. The scaling exponent has been found to be different for guerrilla and terrorist incidents (2.5), when compared to inter-state conventional operations (1.8). However, it has so far been unclear how civil wars which feature conventional tactics scale. This paper finds that Liberia and Ivory Coast, which represent conventional civil wars, have scaling exponents between 1.5 and 2.07.

A second objective is to determine the frequency and size of attacks for both the government and the rebel sides of the conflicts. This was done in order to explore whether differences in power between warring parties could cause differences in the scaling exponents. The preliminary results indicate that the scaling exponent of the dominant actor determines the total scaling exponent for both actors.





Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. 1-20 p.
Keyword [en]
power-law, scale-free, fractal, civil war, conflict, battle, battles, attack, attacks, strategy, strategies
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100076OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-100076DiVA: diva2:209413
Biståndsimplementering och säkerhetsrisker
ISA Annual Convention, New York. Panel: New Directions in the Analysis of Conflict and Cooperation, 18 February 2009, 10.00 Available from: 2009-03-24 Created: 2009-03-24 Last updated: 2009-11-27Bibliographically approved

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Strandow, Daniel
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