Political violence is the occurrence of bloodshed with the aim of preserving or changing the political status quo. It sometimes emerges in the form of state repression, as state authorities struggle against bottom-up pressures for regime change. Crises in Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka are examples of state repression used to suppress a mass movement for regime change and territorial secession. Violence occurs for reasons other than preserving state authority; it also arises between partisans, ethnic groups, and a variety of others vying for the control of political power. Eruptive scenes of political disputes in countries, such as Kenya and Jamaica, are examples of competitive violence from the bottom-up.
At ARTIS, we understand the distinction between bloodshed as a product of state repression used to deter internal opposition and its occurrence as the result of group competition and the attempt to establish control. We use field research relying on scientific methods to understand the reasons why individuals and groups engage in political violence. This approach allows ARTIS to understand the decision making process and the thresholds of actions by those engaged in this form of violence. Because of our emphasis on field-based research that embeds itself within communities, we are able to provide unambiguous research data that supports researchers and policy makers.