Dyrstad, Karin

Does civil war breed authoritarian values? An empirical study of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Croatia



This article analyses how armed conflict affects individual support for liberal values. It is commonly assumed that the consolidation of democracy depends on individual values such as tolerance as well as aspirations of civil and political liberty. For post-conflict societies, consolidating democracy is also a means of reducing the risk of recurring violent conflict. However, democracy has proven to be especially hard to achieve and consolidate in ethnically divided societies. While previous research has centred mainly on institutions and political elites, I expand the focus to also include ordinary citizens. Using survey data from post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Croatia, I examine the effect of exposure to violence on a scale of authoritarian values. While the effects are small, the results show that war-related violence in some cases leads people to embrace authoritarian values.