Exploring operationalizations of political relevance

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During the past decade, researchers have commonly employed one of two sets of interstate dyads as the population of cases in quantitative analyses of international conflict, choosing to examine either "all dyads" or "politically relevant dyads." The main argument against using the "all dyads" set is that it includes many dyads where there is no chance of conflict, and so analysts using this set are examining many pairs of states in which the hypotheses in question are irrelevant. The criticism of politically relevant dyads is that this set does not capture 15% to 20% of the actual conflicts that occur. In this paper I examine the current operationalization of "political relevance" to see whether the operationalization can be slightly modified and encompass all actual conflicts. If it could be, then use of the modified politically relevant dyad case subset might be more appropriate or have advantages over what is currently employed. I conclude that while it is possible to improve upon current operationalizations of political relevance (in terms of capturing conflicts), it is difficult to reach a 100% capture rate. It is also clear from the analysis that the various politically relevant operationalizations do better at capturing wars than militarized interstate disputes (MIDs), and do better at capturing the actions of MID and war originators than MID and war joiners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-261
Number of pages17
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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