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Protestors, Terrorists or Something Else? How to Think about Dissident Groups


Many scholars of contentious politics claim there is no such thing as a group that uses only one tactic, yet scholars, pundits, and the public routinely use single-minded terms like protestors, dissidents, and terrorists. Other scholars and research programs suggest that some groups are specialists who tend to stick to a single tactic to achieve their goals, such as non-violence, violence, or specific kinds of violence, like terror. We make the claim that both sides of the debate are empirically valid and that both types of group exist. That is, some groups tend to specialize in a single tactic while others use a variety of tactics. This paper examines the empirical distribution of group types by examining the mix of tactics that groups employ. The analysis helps resolve part of the debate and pushes scholarly thinking in new directions about how often, why, and when groups operate across this spectrum.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Young, Joseph K. and Steve Shellman. 2019. "Protestors, Terrorists or Something Else? How to Think about Dissident Groups." Conflict Management and Peace Science (October). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0738894219881425

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