Working Paper
Revisiting the links between economic inequality and political violence

The role of social mobilization

The main aim of this paper is to explore theoretically important mechanisms through which economic inequalities may affect the emergence of political violence given the forms of social mobilization they (may) generate.

The paper identifies and explores two mechanisms under which social mobilization in unequal societies may result in either non-violent or violent collective action and, ultimately, in violent conflict.

The first condition is the level of social cooperation between different social groups that are formed during the process of social mobilization. The second is the efficacy of collective action to drive change, which is in turn shaped by the ability of individuals within groups to coordinate their actions.

Forms of social mobilization become violent when antagonism is the dominant form of social interaction between different social groups in unequal societies, and when each of these social groups exhibits high levels of internal coordination.