The comparative study of domestic political conflict has experienced a paradigm shift with the replacement of theories emphasizing deprivation and system imbalance with theories of the political and structural sources of protest and rebellion. This review summarizes criticisms of the earlier theories, arguing that these have been subsumed by newer theories that focus on the relationships between political processes, the state, the capitalist world economy, the inter-state system and the origins and dynamics of social protest and political rebellion. We outline two useful approaches: a theory that emphasizes the impact of internal political institutions and processes, such as political exclusion, indigenous organization, and political opportunity structures; and theories of that focus on the external or international processes of incorporation into the capitalist world economy, the social effects of foreign capital penetration, and political dependence on core states. Finally we examine the possibilities for constructing a synthetic theory of political conflict by treating these theories alternately in an additive fashion or through specifying indirect effects. Problems of measurement and methodology are discussed, especially the importance of developing dynamic models of political conflict.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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