Date of Award
Ph.D. in Political Science
State capacity scholars contend that a state's capabilities objectively predict its likelihood of civil conflict onset. The state capacity literature argues that the likelihood of civil conflict increases when military strength, regime revenue, and/or political institution coherence decrease. However, for this theoretical causal linkage to hold, the state capacity literature must assume that prospective rebels possess complete regime capabilities information; whereas, prospective rebels will know to rebel when the regime has a sufficiently weak, low revenue, and/or an incoherent political institution. I begin my dissertation by contending that incomplete information is more indicative of prospective rebels' informational abilities. Next, I consider how incomplete information changes the rebellion decision calculation for prospective rebels; prospective rebels use perception of the regime's capabilities, not actual capabilities, to determine whether or not to rebel. Incorporating aspects from literatures and fields not typically associated with civil conflict, I hypothesize that two mass media dimensions, media freedom and media access, have a significant interactive effect on how prospective rebels perceive the regime's capabilities which influences a state's probability of civil conflict. Using a logistic regression, I empirically examine Media Interaction with established civil conflict literature variables on all states from 1993 to 2004. Over a series of models, predicted probabilities estimations, and a controlled experiment, I determine two novel findings: 1) mass media significantly impacts the likelihood of civil conflict under certain conditions and 2) the state capacity literature's objective assumption misses important civil conflict onset variance.
Dryden, Jacob Walter, "On Mass Media, State Capacity, And Civil Conflict" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 783.