Who Fights First: Grievances, Community and Collective Action

Cody McClain Brown ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Fulltext: pdf (279 KB), English, Pages 7 – 28

In this article I examine the participation of the earliest entrants in the War
in Croatia (1991-1995). I address the greed/grievance debate within the conflict
literature by demonstrating that measuring grievances at the macro level
misses the micro level processes involved in mobilization. Using interviews
with 21 Croatian war veterans, I look at who fought first, comparing the initial
differences between early and later participants, those who joined before
June 25, 1991, and those that joined after. I argue that early joiners belonged
to a bounded community of those disaffected with Yugoslavia and Communism;
however, these grievances alone do not explain their participation, rather
it was an individual’s inclusion in the dissident community and the social
relationships within that community that clarify how the first participants
were mobilized. The findings show that all but one of the earliest joiners who
joined through a social connection belonged to Croatia’s dissident community
and were from families that supported NDH. The other joiners joined by
themselves after encountering violence from the fighting first hand. The majority
of the later joiners joined after experiencing violence as well. Two of the
three who joined through a social connection were also part of the dissident
community and from NDH associated families.

War in Croatia; Mobilization; Collective Action; Domestic Conflict; War Veterans