Political Science and Genocide

Scott Straus

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Political Science and Genocide

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  • History
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
  • Social and Cultural History


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This article discusses the relationship between political science and genocide, focusing on three major themes. First, it discusses the evolution of genocide studies within the discipline and expands on this. Second, it identifies seminal contributions that have emerged from some four decades of political science studies of genocide: a methodological emphasis on the comparative method, including both quantitative and qualitative studies; a move to broaden the concept of genocide using related but different terms; a theoretical emphasis on regime type; a theoretical emphasis on political leaders' decision-making calculus — more specifically, political scientists have been in the forefront of developing rationalist explanations of genocide; and a theoretical emphasis on the connections between warfare and genocide. Third, it presents some general critiques of political science approaches and suggests avenues for future research in the discipline.

Keywords: political science; genocide studies; warfare; political leaders

Article.  8144 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing ; Social and Cultural History

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