Does social cohesion explain variation in violence within divided cities? In line with insights drawn from the ethnic politics, criminology and urban geography literature we suggest that explaining variation in intergroup violence is not possible by relying on motivational elements alone, and attention to social cohesion is required as well. While cohesion can facilitate collective action that aids violent mobilization, it can also strengthen social order that contributes to the group’s capability to control and prevent unrest. We test these relationships using an application of a latent variable model to an integration of survey results, crime data and expert-coded data in order to measure cohesion in East Jerusalem neighborhoods. We then analyze its impact on riots using three original geolocated datasets recording violence in the neighborhoods between the years 2013 and 2015. Our results reveal that even with controls for economic and political determinants of violence, as well as for spatial clustering and temporal explanations, neighborhood-level social cohesion is a robust explanatory variable that negatively correlates with riots.
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