Fighting for Local Control: Street Violence in the Basque Country
Title: Fighting for Local Control: Street Violence in the Basque Country
Author: DE LA CALLE, Luis
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Citation: International Studies Quarterly, 2007, 51, 2, 431-455
Mainstream research on political violence has traditionally paid attention to the analysis of wars, guerrilla warfare, and terrorism techniques wherein the existence of organizations makes clear the causal path between political demands and the triggering of violence. The absence of organizations in diffused forms of violence rendered the link between violence and politics more difficult. However, in the last decade research on riots has convincingly shown that this type of nonorganizationally based violence follows strategic patterns of targeting, timing, and spatial spread. By building from those findings, I focus on street violence (SV). I contend that explanations of SV based on its more impressionistic traits (just as a mechanical response to socioeconomic deprivation) fall short of being the whole story. Rather, SV seems to be triggered in settings where actors have political benefits to reap. Concretely, if we look at the Spanish Basque Country during 1996-2000, a region where SV became a persistent type of nonorganizationally based violence, it took root more in towns where the level of polarization between groups in conflict was higher. That finding fits analytical evidence from the Basque conflict as well as anecdotal evidence from other enduring conflicts all over the world.
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