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‘Proxy War’: a reconceptualisation

Rauta, V. (2021) ‘Proxy War’: a reconceptualisation. Civil Wars, 23 (1). pp. 1-24. ISSN 1369-8249

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/13698249.2021.1860578


This article presents a definitional structure for the notion of ‘proxy war’ organised around three components: (1) a material-constitutive feature, e.g. external support; (2) a processual feature explaining the modalities through which the material-constitutive component is provided; and (3) a relational feature underlying its specific type of strategic behaviour, e.g. strategic bargaining short of alliance building. In doing so, the article investigates the analytical utility of ‘proxy war’ as concept given the rapid expansion of the literature. First, the article evaluates the multiple usages of the term of ‘proxy war’ in light of its contested character. Second, it proposes a way of making sense of the literature’s conceptual turmoil by analysing the different attempts at defining the notion. To this end, it adds an important link to the methodology of concept analysis, namely the ‘semantic field’, which it re-introduces as a heuristic to identify ‘military intervention’ as a root concept for defining proxy wars. The article does so by identifying a type of semantic relationship between ‘proxy war’ and ‘military intervention’, namely sub-type inclusion.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:94927


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