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Rational choice models of political violence: The role of injustice and retribution

Citation

Bray, J. (2009). Rational choice models of political violence: The role of injustice and retribution. (Research brief). Research Triangle Park, NC: Institute for Homeland Security Solutions.

Abstract

Rational choice theory, a cornerstone of economic theory for more than a century, has been largely dismissed as having relevance to the study of political violence, especially when applied to individuals rather than to groups. Yet rational choice theory offers many benefits to policymakers attempting to prevent political violence: it can place political violence within a continuum that ranges from tacit approval of violence, to nonviolent explicit support, to actual participation in violent acts. This brief argues that rational choice models can be usefully extended to explore the role that revenge seeking plays in individuals’ choices to engage in political violence.