The Social-Political Environment



In this chapter the focus is still on the social support base but from the perspective of social rather than military opportunity — and of the social-political rather than military-political environment. As was described in Chapter 8, the passive or active support that is provided by fearful subjects or local allies is largely related to the military environment, especially the fact that these people are living in the insurgents’ semistate area or an O1, O2 or even O3 operational zone. In contrast, the passive or active support provided by political supporters is largely related to the social-political environment and the social opportunity it offers the insurgents to convert potential political support into actual support. To exploit this opportunity the insurgents have to win support for the insurgency’s political goals as well as use coercive, social or moral selective incentives to overcome free-rider and other collective-action problems, as was described in Chapter 6. If the insurgents are willing and able to exploit the opportunity, they can expand/deepen/strengthen their support base through an increase in the number of people supplying support, through transforming passive into active support or through converting fearful-subject or local-ally forms of support into the more resilient and reliable form that is provided only by political supporters.


Active Support Political Support Relative Deprivation Support Base Political Goal 
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© Paul Brooker 2010

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