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Understanding the Legitimacy of Armed Groups: A Relational Perspective

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Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Issue number4-5
Early online date26 Jul 2017
Accepted/In press2 Apr 2017
E-pub ahead of print26 Jul 2017


King's Authors


This paper analyses the multiple pathways through which legitimacy of armed groups is constructed in conflict-affected states. It adopts a political sociological approach to the study of armed group legitimacy. Such a strategy assists in identifying whether armed groups enjoy legitimacy in a given empirical context and avoids applying pre-determined normative criteria. The focus is on three types of relationships: civilian communities, the state or regime in power and external actors including regional and international sponsors, to discern which types of legitimacy matter for armed groups in different relationships.

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