Repressed productive potential and revolt: Insights from an insurgency in Burundi

Cyrus Samii, Emily A. West

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The relationship between participation in revolt and individuals' economic conditions is among the most debated in political science. While conventional economic theory suggests that those who face the poorest economic prospects are most inclined to fight, extant evidence is decidedly mixed. We address this puzzling variation by analyzing the interplay between macro-structural conditions and individuals' micro-level circumstances. Under conditions of severe group repression, we show how a glass-ceiling logic may operate: Among the repressed group, those with relatively high productive potential may be most motivated to revolt. We test this with in-depth analysis of participation in the 1993-2003 Burundian insurgency. The data are consistent with numerous implications of the glass-ceiling logic and inconsistent with extant alternative explanations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)106-121
    Number of pages16
    JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2021


    • Inequality
    • ethnic conflict
    • human capital
    • opportunity costs
    • rebellion

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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