External Threat as Coercion


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Journal of Social Structure

International Network for Social Network Analysis

Subject: Social Sciences


eISSN: 1529-1227





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VOLUME 16 , ISSUE 1 (December 2015) > List of articles

External Threat as Coercion

Pamela Emanuelson / David Willer

Keywords : External Threat, Experiment, Social Structure, Coercion

Citation Information : Journal of Social Structure. Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 1-16, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21307/joss-2019-016

License : (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Published Online: 13-August-2019



In coercive relations, threats of negative sanctions extract valued positive sanctions from coercees. Only when coercion is direct, however, are the negative sanctions controlled by the coercer who benefits from the threats. Not previously investigated, indirect coercion relies on threats and negative sanctions that are external to the exploitative relation. We suggest that indirect coercion is ubiquitous. From their inception states have used the threat of external enemies to justify rulers’ increased powers and to provide a patina of legitimacy while, on a smaller scale, criminal organizations such as the mafia have long profited from offering protection. The purpose of this paper is to theoretically model and experimentally investigate indirect coercion and compare its effectiveness in extracting valued resources to that of direct coercion. Previous research has shown that all power structures, whether exchange, conflict or coercive, take two distinct forms, strong and weak. Therefore, experiments on strong and weak indirect coercion are run and are compared to new and previous experiments on strong and weak direct coercion. Theoretically grounded predictions are derived and tested for those structures.

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