Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Civil War and Citizens' Demand for the State: An Empirical Test of Hobbesian Theory

July 22, 2019

Assistant Professor Rob Blair

Assistant Professor Rob Blair’s latest article, Civil War and Citizens' Demand for the State: An Empirical Test of Hobbesian Theory, was published on June 25, 2019. 

“How does violence during civil war shape citizens' demand for state-provided security, especially in places where non-state actors compete with the state for citizens' loyalties?” In new research, Blair draws on Hobbes’s Leviathan to suggest that in post-conflict settings, citizens most affected by violence should lean more toward centralized authorities, especially the state, instead of localized authorities. Using two surveys and a priming experiment in Liberia, Blair tests the Hobbesian Theory and finds that after years of civil war in Liberia, the more severely affected citizens were more likely to demand state-provided security and were more likely to comply with state authorities. He also found that most severely victimized citizens were more fearful of threats to peace today, consistent with Hobbes. 

To learn more about his research, click here.