Kevin Greene and Caleb Lucas. "Once More, With Feeling: Using Sentiment Analysis to Improve Models of Relationships Between Non-State Actors," International Interactions 46, no. 1 (2020):150-162. [Appendix] [Preprint] [Bib]

We collect an original corpus of official documents released by Hezbollah and use text analysis to create a measure of their relationships with other non-state groups. Despite recent research that demonstrates these types of relationships affect the length and severity of conflict, data limitations hinder efforts by researchers to capture important variation in them over time. Our approach uses fine-grained text data to capture dynamic trends in these relationships. We demonstrate its effectiveness by showing our model is able to reproduce qualitative accounts of Hezbollah’s known alliances and rivalries with other non-state actors with greater accuracy and precision than existing measures. We also compare the approach with event data and demonstrate its ability to provide more granular and complementary information. With further exploration, this technique could assist researchers in improving and developing measures of intrastate cooperation and competition for use in empirical analyses.

Selected Projects:

"Deadly Dates: The Relationship Between Holy Days and Terrorism" (under review)

How do religious holidays affect the incidence of terror attacks? I argue multiple incentives exist that encourage violence on these days. For example, attacks on holidays allow terrorists to signal their religiosity and impose extra terror on their targets. Governments understand they are triggers for violence though and increase security surrounding them. However, their ability to do this is limited by the length of the holiday due to resource constraints and practical concerns. I consequently expect the probability of an attack occurring on holidays that last a few days to be lower than on non-holidays since state security is at its peak. However, holidays that last weeks are more difficult to protect and still provide payoffs to terror groups. They should therefore have a higher likelihood of witnessing an attack than non-holidays. Data from all available Arab League countries (2001-2016) support these claims.

Caleb Lucas, Benjamin Appel, and Alyssa Prorok. "Not Too Distant: Opportunity, Grievance, and the Onset of Civil War" (under review)

Grievance and opportunity theories have dominated research on the causes of civil war for half a century, with much of the existing literature focused on determining which is a better predictor of conflict onset. We argue that this focus limits existing research’s ability to explain variation in civil conflict onset. Rather than treating grievance and opportunity as independent, competing explanations, we integrate them into a unified theory, arguing that they are best understood as complements that jointly predict conflict. We apply insights from the interstate war literature, arguing that the probability of civil war increases as the disparity between relative power and the status quo distribution of benefits (conceptualized as inverse grievances) increases. Under these conditions, relatively powerful actors have incentives to use force to obtain greater benefits. Data regarding 541 ethnic group-state dyads in 127 countries provide strong statistical and substantive support for our theoretical argument.