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The Institutional Basis of Intercommunal Order: Evidence from Indonesia's Democratic Transition


  • This research was supported with generous funding from Harvard University, Yale University's Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence, and the World Bank's Social Development Unit. I thank the AJPS editor, three anonymous referees, Robert Bates, Steven Levitsky, Roger Petersen, Monica Toft, Stathis Kalyvas, Jesse Driscoll, Chris Blattman, Kevin Esterling, Indridi Indridason, and the participants of seminars at Harvard, Yale, the World Bank, UC San Diego, and the APSA annual meeting for valuable comments and suggestions. All errors are my own. The replication data are available on the AJPS Dataverse as well as

Yuhki Tajima is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California at Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92521 (


When authoritarian regimes break down, why does communal violence spike and why are some locations more prone to violence than others? To understand violence during transitions, it is necessary to understand what sustains order when regimes are stable. While existing theories attribute order to formal or informal security institutions on their own, I argue that intercommunal order obtains when formal and informal security institutions are aligned. During authoritarian breakdowns, the state's coercive grip loosens, exposing mismatches between formal and informal institutions and raising the risk of communal violence. Formal-informal mismatches emerge in communities accustomed to heavy state intervention since they will have developed more state-dependent informal security institutions. I apply an instrumental variables approach on a nationwide dataset of village-level data to show that prior exposure to military intervention, proxied by the distance to security outposts, led to Indonesia's spike in violence during its recent democratic transition.