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Article
The Return on Social Bonds: Social Hierarchy and International Conflict
Journal of Peace Research
  • Mark David Nieman, Iowa State University
Document Type
Article
Publication Version
Accepted Manuscript
Publication Date
1-1-2016
DOI
10.1177/0022343316642509
Abstract

This article takes a game-theoretic and latent variable approach to modeling the effect of international social hierarchies on conflict among states. I start with the premise that international states are social actors and are nested within informal social networks of friendly and conflictual relationships. Rather than lateral relationships among equals, networks among states tend to have a vertical or hierarchical structure. Although international hierarchical relationships may arise as a result of material power asymmetries, this article focuses on non-material asymmetries that stem from political legitimacy or policy innovation – a subject that has received less attention in scholarly research. I argue that, within these hierarchies, states adopt one of two roles – a dominant or a subordinate. Each resulting (dyadic) dominant–subordinate relationship is a social contract, in which the subordinate concedes some autonomy in exchange for the dominant’s protection. This social hierarchy affects the relationships among subordinates, as well as between a dominant and subordinates. The model predicts that a state’s degree of subordination reduces its probability of conflict initiation against other subordinates. Moreover, the decision to initiate conflict is influenced by the expectation that the dominant will intervene, which itself is affected by the target’s relative level of subordination to the dominant vis-à-vis the challenger. These predictions are supported by empirical analyses of the US hierarchy (1950–2000).

Comments

This is a manuscript of an article from Journal of Peace Research 53 (2016): 665, DOI: 10.1177/0022343316642509. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner
The Authors
Language
en
File Format
application/pdf
Citation Information
Mark David Nieman. "The Return on Social Bonds: Social Hierarchy and International Conflict" Journal of Peace Research Vol. 53 Iss. 5 (2016) p. 665 - 679
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark-nieman/4/