Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

External Actors as Harbingers of Change in Dissident Strategy

Fri, September 1, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Hotel Nikko, Peninsula Room


Collective direct action can take either violence or nonviolence as its principal method of opposition. The dissident organisation devises a strategy – emphasising either violent or nonviolent forms of resistance - that would espouse certain tactics so as to achieve its stated goals. Yet, there are cases where dissidents make drastic shifts in their strategy by changing their principal opposition method. This study poses the question, therefore, why dissident organisations change strategy and argues that foreign agents could influence campaign dynamics. The argument builds on empirical evidence demonstrating that a vast number of resistance campaigns experience interventions from different external actors. More often than not such interference consists of provision of material support that could potentially affect the dynamics of the resistance campaign. This paper derives hypotheses based on a proposed theory of external actors’ support and change in dissident strategy. I conduct a large-n analysis with dissident campaign-level data on external support by actor – states, international non-government organisations (INGOs) and diaspora communities – to the dissident organisation. I find support for some of the hypotheses: diasporas appear to trigger change in dissident strategy from violence to nonviolence; there is some evidence that states providing assistance to the dissidents instigate a strategic transformation from nonviolence to violence; nonetheless, support from INGOs does not seem to be a significant predictor of change in dissident strategy. The findings of this paper could serve as a basis for investigating more granular research questions on foreign intervention and the dynamics of resistance campaigns.