Who Calls the Shots? Police Reform in Post-Conflict South Africa

Graduate Research Grant
Grant Year

My project seeks to explain the differential effects that police reforms can have on levels of criminal violence in post-conflict contexts. It asks: under what conditions does police reform affect criminal violence in post-conflict settings? I argue that the effect of police reform on criminal violence is the result of a sequential process. As a consequence of two specific mechanisms for reform, accountability and (de)militarization, police behavior changes. In turn, this observable change affects the behavior of criminal groups, leading to changes in criminal violence.

I propose a mixed-methods approach to conduct my research. I combine within-case analysis of South Africa, with cross-country analysis. By looking at South Africa, I am able to exploit temporal and spatial variation in these reforms to offer an in-depth understanding of their mechanisms. By looking across countries, I am able to generalize my theory beyond a specific instance.