Pre-war Grievances and Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars. Evidence from the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2018


  • 12

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1864-1385


  • This article argues that the role of pre-war grievances as a predictor of violence against civilians in civil wars may have been systematically underestimated because the "grievance hypothesis" has not been properly tested. Pre-war grievances can only affect civilian victimization in civil wars if they have been intensely mobilized in the lead-up to the conflict and a temporary collapse of state capacity also occurs. This article presents a "fair test" of the grievance hypothesis. It analyses in depth a specific case of a pre-war grievance that met these two conditions: conflict around land property rights in Catalonia before the Spanish Civil War and its effects on violence against civilians during the war. The results show a non-negligible effect of pre-war grievances on civilian victimization.


  • conflict; civil war; violence against civilians; grievances; cooperation