All the World's a Stage: The Geodemography of Political Contention.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:06
Oral Presentation
Edward CRENSHAW, The Ohio State University, USA
Kristopher Robison ROBISON, Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University, USA
J. Craig JENKINS, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University, USA
All the World’s a Stage: The Geodemography of Political Contention. Edward Crenshaw*, Kristopher Robison** and J. Craig Jenkins*.


David Kilcullen recently theorized that violent political contention around the globe is (and will increasingly be) driven by geodemographic forces that he sums up with the pithy phrase “crowded, connected and coastal.” That is, he suggests that coastal, media-connected megacities are the battlefields of the future, and so we should expect this new human geography to strongly predict political contention. Using pooled cross-sectional time-series analyses on cross-national samples that average over 100 nations (1976-2012), we examine the effects of these geodemographic factors pitted against a more general globalization model we augment with structural control variables typically found in such studies (e.g., GDP/c, government repression). Using this standard model, we predict three forms of political contention: (1) non-violent anti-governmental protest; (2) terrorist attacks; and (3) guerrilla/insurgent attacks. In order to empirically test Kilcullen’s concept, we create a (country-year level) four-variable index that includes population size, the coastal population distribution, the size of the largest city, and foreign press bureaus (the latter representing “connectedness”). Net of our standard model, our results strongly validate Kilcullen’s theory; geodemography positively predicts protest, terrorism and insurgency and does so consistently and robustly (as do democracy [Polity IV] and government repression). We conclude that Kilcullen’s theory is a breakthrough in the human ecology of political contention, greatly aiding international organizations and policy-makers in predicting and anticipating conflicts and humanitarian crises around the globe.

*Department of Sociology, Ohio State University

**Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University