When development is not "right": Understanding the relationship between perceptions, collective action and victimhood

TitleWhen development is not "right": Understanding the relationship between perceptions, collective action and victimhood
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJayakody, S
Secondary AuthorsUsoof-Thowfeek, R
JournalLIVES Working Paper
Keywordscollective action, conflict, development, victim beliefs

Much of the research on effective reconciliation advocates a holistic approach to social harmony in post war settings. However, many state and non-governmental entities choose physical infrastructure development, as a strategy for reconciliation believing that enhanced access to physical resources would dampen any recurrence of violence and conflict. At the end of 30 years of war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealem (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military, the Sri Lankan government for several years after, took a similar path. This paper examines community and individual responses to such development, in post war Sri Lanka with special focus on community reactions to development in situations where development is perceived as imposed. The paper specifically examines how these responses relate to support for collective action and whether this relationship is mediated by different forms of victim beliefs that community members hold.
The paper uses data collected in a survey conducted in two districts in Sri Lanka from 202 respondents, representative of all ethnic and religious groups. The survey probed respondents on their own and community views of the development that had taken place in post war Sri Lanka, their beliefs about their group’s victimhood and their support and willingness to engage in collective action. The analysis revealed higher conflict exposure to be associated with higher tendencies to engage in collective action in the presence of certain types of victim beliefs. It revealed that lower receptiveness of development was positively related with collective action, but different types of victim beliefs mediated this relationship.