Saturday, May 28, 2016

Greater economic backwardness linked to increased civil unrest

Greater economic backwardness linked to increased civil unrest

Economically more backward countries are more likely to experience both violent and non-violent civil unrest, according to research by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The study looked at how economic backwardness has affected the likelihood of social tension and mass movements, from peaceful demonstrations to civil wars, since the end of the Second World War.

For the first time the researchers found that the greater the development gap with the world economic leader, defined as the United States, the more likely a country has experienced non-violent and violent mass demonstrations for regime change and, to a lesser degree, armed civil conflict.

They show that under-development causes social unrest, not vice versa, and suggest that the impact of economic backwardness has been increasing in recent decades as globalisation has made it easier to make status comparisons with others. The results also indicate that on average richer and more democratic countries tend to engage more in non-violent movements for political change than in violent ones.


The researchers suggest that social tension results from a combination of international comparison - people comparing their situation with others perceived to be better off and striving to catch up - and the inability to emerge from economic backwardness because of either political incompetence or the suppression by governments of any entrepreneurial activity which is perceived as a potential threat to the status quo.

The spread of the internet and the rise of social media have made international comparisons easier than in previous decades, when status aspirations were influenced, for example, by information gathered from migrants' experiences, schooling, or television.


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