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From cell phones to conflict? Reflections on the emerging ICT–political conflict research agenda

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- Enablers
- Challenges
- Outcomes and Impacts

- Internet for Democracy
- Internet Or Digital Rights and Freedoms
- Internet Safety

Author(s): Allan Dafoe; Jason Lyall

We reflect on the contributions made by the articles of this special issue to the emerging ICT–political conflict research agenda, highlighting strengths of these articles, and offering suggestions for moving forward. Elaborate theory is crucial: it informs our standards of evidence, our choice of statistical models, our tests of competing theories, and our efforts to draw appropriate generalizations. We discuss in detail the risk that measurement bias could account for the prominent association between cellular coverage and (reported) conflict, and recommend several ways of evaluating and bounding this risk. We discuss the problem of temporal and spatial dependence for statistical inference – a problem that is often present for studies of ICTs – and point out that methodological solutions rely on (rarely stated) causal assumptions.


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