The observation, measurement, and analysis of violent and contentious processes are essential parts of the scientific study of peace and conflict. However, concepts such as the level of repression, the number of individuals killed during a civil war, or the perception of members of an out-group, are often by definition difficult to observe directly. This is because governments, non-state groups, NGOs, international organizations, monitoring organizations, and other actors are not incentivized to make information about their actions systematically observable to analysts. In this context, latent variable models can play a valuable role by aggregating various behavioral indicators and signals together to help measure latent concepts of interest that would not otherwise be directly observable. Each of the articles in this special issue uses some form of a latent variable model or related measurement model to bring together observable pieces of information and estimate a set of values for the underlying theoretical concept of interest. Each of the articles pays special attention to the processes that make the observation of peace and conflict processes so challenging. As we highlight throughout this introductory article, the unifying framework we present in this special issue is validation. Though the substantive content of each of the articles in this special issue varies, they represent the diversity of substantive interests that span the study of peace and conflict, broadly conceived. Overall, we hope that the special issue becomes a standard reference for scholars interested in developing and validating new measurement models for the study of peace and conflict.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.