Identity and Child Soldiering

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The focus of research on child soldiers has been primarily on structural variables. This research tends to extend the focus onto the characteristics of armed non-state actors by looking at the identity foundations of these groups and their connection to child soldiering. This focus leads to a theory-building effort on the demand side of child soldiering. large N studies are scarce on the topic of child soldiering. By using a dataset containing 237 different armed non-state actors this thesis also attempts to contribute to this gap of research on child soldiers. The research question for this thesis is as followed; Does the role of identity within armed non-state actors influence the use of child soldiers? This thesis looks at the three identities most common to conflict analysis; ethnicity, religion and class-based ideology. The goal of an armed non-state actor and the strength of their central command serve as control variables. The results indicate both foundations of ethnic identities and class-based ideologies by an armed non-state actor influence an armed non-state actors use of child soldiers. In contrast to the other identities in this research, this thesis finds no significant effect of a religious foundation of an armed non-state actor and the use of child soldiers. This thesis offers an argument as to why identity can matter, namely as a way to legitimize their conflict and the necessity of using child soldiers. This argument, however, is unable to be tested in this thesis. The main findings of this thesis indicate that in-depth research on these identities is necessary, to understand the possible causal connection. Beyond this, this thesis argues that the need for further research beyond structural variables in violent conflict is important and deserves more academic attention.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen