Mobilization of tribal groups has been a topic of several recent works dealing with contemporary conflicts. However, this work often remains descriptive and fails to incorporate systematic data. On the other hand, recent advances in civil war literature have brought to the forefront armed group ideology as an explanatory variable. Nonetheless, the interaction between these factors remains insufficiently explained. In this paper, I make a connection between population’s social structure and the armed group’s ideology in order to explain the mobilization of tribal groups in a civil war. To this end I use both qualitative and quantitative evidence from the 1941-1942 civil war in Montenegro. Based on data from primary sources, ethnographic works, historical directories, and censuses, I conclude that strategic mobilization choices depend on the ideology of armed groups, but they have different effects depending on the social structure of the population they interact with. In the competitive environment of a tribal society in civil war, a revolutionary armed group was more effective in mobilizing a more fractionalized population, whereas conservative groups were more successful in concentrated tribal areas. Since these are preliminary findings, future research should focus on detailing the mechanisms of tribal mobilization in civil wars, and in robust testing of findings, both in and out ofMontenegro.
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