By linking literature on armed groups, political parties and state-building, we aim to ensure that future research on the politics of armed groups speaks to the pressing issues of international peace-building, democratisation and development.

We aim to enrich the conceptual tools used to understand the comparative politics of armed groups by structuring our research around the following four assumptions:

  • Empirical comparisons should be made across categories, for example across time, the North/South divide, types of war, and types of conflict ending. Limiting our empirical points of comparison constrains theoretical thinking.
  • The consequences for democracy should feature more prominently in our analysis of armed groups. Research should examine not only the institutions of democracy, such as political parties, but also how armed groups have shaped legislative agendas, political accountability and other opportunities for political voice.
  • Case comparisons should be made across theoretical divides and across levels of analysis. The political trajectory of the party, elites, and members of an armed group are not the same.
  • Methodological pluralism should be embraced, including a mix of quantitative research, political ethnography, explicit process tracing, and single and comparative case studies extended over time.