This is a joint post with Christian Davenport.
At the most recent session of the Conflict Consortium Virtual Workshop (CCVW) we introduced a new initiative to focus not on a paper but a new dataset – a CCVW, Data Feature. These conversations are loosely guided by the Conflict Consortium’s Standards and Best Practices document.
For this inauguration we led off with Sana Jaffrey (University of Chicago) and her National Violence Monitoring System (NVMS) project on Indonesian violence after armed conflict from 1999 to 2005 (download the Methodology Summary [PDF]). Anita Gohdes and Christopher M. Sullivan joined us (i.e., Will Moore and Christian Davenport), and Jaffrey deserves special credit for speaking with us from Indonesia in the middle of the night. You can watch a video here.
The NVMS dataset (based on a 14 year effort) includes millions of pages of information and 160,000 events, by the incident-day. The data were compiled by human content analysis of news reports from multiple district newspapers across nine provinces in Indonesia, supplemented with other materials.
The work is largely based on a conception of conflict rooted in the work of Lewis Coser, which includes value conflicts that concern the acquisition of status, power and resources through taking coercive action. Such an orientation broadens the general range of discussion away from civil war and armed conflict to include a wide variety of activities such as “riots, violent protests, revenge killings, vigilante attacks, extortion and organized crime.” Interestingly, the effort involved a concerted effort to disaggregate the codes, recording information about the specific news sources that covered the relevant events, the editorial practices of the relevant news agency and the degree of redundant coverage/overlap.
Jumping into conceptualization, participants quickly asked questions about the separability of the different event types coded in the research. Codings are provided for the various categories (see the table at the bottom of this post) and the focus on individual events—rather than aggregated summaries at a daily or higher temporal unit—was deemed to be extremely valuable, a key point made in the Standards and Best Practices document. Further, the NVMS shows promise as a source to study how the various tactics fit together and probe what Charles Tilly referred to as “repertoires”.
We discussed how useful the data would be for evaluating sequences as well as patterns of escalation and de-escalation. We also had an interesting discussion about the distinction made in the data between “types” (noted above) and “forms”. Discussion focused on how the two were related to one another as well as how distinct combinations might be related to one another. Rape was taken to be an impact of the violence (i.e., an outcome) and not explicitly an event type which differs from other projects like Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict.
Another issue raised in the Standards and Best Practices document concerns clear articulation of the population vs. sample for the data. As is generally the case, the NVMS documentation (available at the CCVW page) does not discuss the issue, but does address it implicitly with a discussion of source bias and how the project addressed it. This discussion is conventional in data work in the field, and relies on an implicit assumption that all violence is observable and a census could be collected via “triangulation” of a sufficient number of varied resources. The Standards and Best Practices document challenges this implicit argument, and makes a case for explicit discussion of both population and sample in which discussions about source bias need to be placed.
A different conversation about source coverage also took place. We praised the NVMS for the care taken to understand what different newspapers covered, as well as how. Indeed, we were all hard pressed to identify another project that had been as thorough since the pioneering efforts of Tilly back during the Contentious French project.
That said, questions were raised about how well the project examined and understood the impact of one type of event occurring in the same spot and how that influenced the coverage of other events (i.e., newshole effects). These are not likely independent as the relevant news agencies must allocate resources to cover different events. Additionally, some attention was given to how events in different locales might influence the coverage of events in other areas.
Interestingly, NVMS tried to use different sources to compensate for failed coverage of a specific area but it does not appear to be the case that they tried to examine why coverage was not extended in the first place. This provides an interesting area of additional inquiry, allowing for the systematic evaluation of data generation that is sorely needed in the conflict/peace field.
There were important implications regarding source coverage for the NVMS. For example, events were often categorized by the existence of prior activity/mobilization. If previous action was not covered, however, then it is possible that an event would be categorized incorrectly. This brought into discussion the use of other sources, but it was not always clear exactly how such information was systematically brought to bear.
Indeed, some discussion was made about how rather than simply controlling for biases researchers should systematically attempt to model it like perhaps in the preliminary way offered by Davenport in his book Media Bias, Perspective and State Repression. This was explicitly mentioned during the session as a possible collaboration. Such an opportunity was not unique. One of the positive outcomes of the discussion was the conclusion that a wide variety of topics could be addressed with the NVMS, significantly advancing the study of the topic.
In summary, the NVMS is an exciting venture that warrants the attention, use and scrutiny of conflict researchers. Everyone who is willing to work outside of pooled cross-national time-series data structure should invest some time exploring the data set and determining its value as a potential source they could use to advance their research agenda.
Regrettably, the data’s website was recently removed as a new one is under construction. We are working with Jaffrey to make the data publicly available in the interim and will update you accordingly.
@WilHMoo & @engagedscholar
Categories in the NVMS Coding Scheme
|Code in Raw Data||Types of Violence (Triggers)||Description|
|88881||Resource Conflict||Violence triggered by resource disputes (land, mining, access to employment, salary, pollution, etc.)|
|1102||Other resources||Violence triggered other resource disputes.|
|1103||Land||Violence triggered by land disputes. (public or private)|
|1104||Natural resource||Violence triggered by natural resources such as mining, water etc. (public or private)|
|1105||Man-made resource||Violence triggered by man-made resources. (public or private)|
|1106||Access||Violence triggered by access to employment, markets route, customers, etc.|
|1107||Environment||Violence triggered by environmental damage, air
pollution, noise pollution, etc.
|1108||Salary/labor issues||Violence triggered by complaints over pay, labor condition, industrial relations between laborers and the management, etc.|
|88882||Governance Conflict||Violence is triggered by government policies or programs (public services, corruption, subsidy, region splitting, etc.)|
|2202||Other governance conflicts||Violence triggered by other governance issues.|
|2203||Tender process||Violence triggered by problems related to government tenders, including corruption in the tender process|
|2204||Corruption||Violence triggered by corruption or misuse of government funds unrelated to tender process|
|2205||Public services||Violence triggered by issues related to the quality of public services, such as education, healthcare, and other services provided by the government|
|2206||Commodity prices/subsidy||Violence triggered by changes in commodity prices or subsidy allocation/distribution|
|2207||Government programs||Violence triggered by problems pertaining to government programs OUTSIDE OF TENDER, CORRUPTION, PUBLIC SERVICES, AS WELL AS COMMODITY PRICES AND SUBSIDY. This includes execution of government programs, funding priorities and complaints regarding implementation or unmet needs, salary issues and government employment.|
|2211||Region splitting||Violence triggered by regional splitting or re-districting|
|2212||Law enforcement||Violence triggered by disputed arrests, problems pertaining to actions by security forces, or dissatisfaction with court proceedings/decisions|
|88883||Elections and Appointments||Violence triggered by electoral competition or bureaucratic appointments.|
|3302||Other election and public office conflicts||Violence triggered by other competition for position and power|
|3303||National election/appointment||Violence triggered by electoral competition or bureaucratic appointments at the national level (e.g.: national parliament members, ministers, President or Vice President etc.)|
|3304||Provincial election/appointment||Violence triggered by electoral competition or bureaucratic appointments at the provincial level (e.g. provincial parliament members, provincial govt. positions, Governor and Vice Governor etc.)|
|3305||District/municipality election/appointment||Violence triggered by electoral competition or bureaucratic appointments at the district/municipal level (e.g. district parliament, district govt. positions, district head and mayor etc.)|
|3306||Sub-district appointment||Violence triggered by sub-district level government appointment (e.g. dispute over the office of head of sub-district (camat))|
|3307||Village/kelurahan elections/appointment||Violence triggered by village/kelurahan level election or appointment (e.g. village head and village council elections, village level appointments)|
|3308||Other government office||Violence triggered by election or appointment at other level of government|
|3309||Office/influence/power in political parties||Violence triggered by election/appointment within political parties|
|88889||Separatist Conflict||Violence triggered by efforts to secede from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI)|
|9903||Separatism||Violence triggered by independence/separatist struggle to secede from Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI)|
|88884||Identity-based Conflict||Violence triggered by group identity (religion, ethnicity, tribe, etc)|
|4402||Other identity||Violence triggered by identity of other groups|
|4403||Inter-ethnic/tribal||Violence triggered by ethnic/tribal dispute ( regarding cultural attributes or symbols of diaspora, language and so forth)|
|4404||Inter-religious||Violence triggered by disputes between members of different religious groups|
|4405||Intra-religious||Violence triggered by disputes over interpretation within a religion (e.g. between sects)|
|4406||Between migrants/refugees and locals||Violence triggered by issues pertaining to migration/diaspora/refugees|
|4407||Between migrants/refugees and locals and certain ethnicity||Violence triggered by issues pertaining to migration/diaspora/refugees as well as ethnicity/tribalism|
|4408||Geographical||Violence triggered by long-standing enmity between residents of particular villages/neighborhoods|
|4409||Gender||Violence triggered by gender related issues (including LGBT)|
|4410||Supporters of sports clubs||Violence triggered by issues between supporters of different sports clubs/teams|
|4411||School/university identity||Violence triggered by issues between students of different schools/faculties/universities (e.g. mob fights between schools)|
|88885||Popular Justice||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish actual or perceived wrong (group violence only)|
|5502||Other issue||Violence perpetrated to retaliate over other issues|
|5503||Retaliation over insult||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish insults/embarrassment/loss of face|
|5504||Retaliation over accident||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish traffic accidents|
|5505||Retaliation over debt||Violence perpetrated to resolve/punish debt disputes|
|5506||Retaliation over theft||Violence perpetrated to recover /punish theft/fraud or other financial damage|
|5507||Retaliation over vandalism||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish vandalism|
|5508||Retaliation over sexual indiscretion||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish sexual indiscretion for example fornication/adultery/affairs|
|5509||Retaliation over assault||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish a previous murder/assault/beating/rape|
|5510||Attack on places of vice||Violence perpetrated to stop gambling/drinking/narcotics/prostitution|
|5511||Retaliation for sorcery||Violence perpetrated to respond to/punish sorcery/black magic|
|88880||Other Conflicts||Violence triggered by other issues|
|1||Unclear||Trigger of violence is not clear|
|2||Other types of violence||Violence triggered by issues other than those listed in the coding key|