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Explaining African Military Coups d'Etat, 1960-1982

Thomas H. Johnson, Robert O. Slater and Pat McGowan
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 78, No. 3 (Sep., 1984), pp. 622-640
DOI: 10.2307/1961833
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1961833
Page Count: 19
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Explaining African Military Coups d'Etat, 1960-1982
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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to contribute to the theoretical understanding of African military coups d'etat. We begin by replicating a well-known model (Jackman, 1978) that purports to identify the structural determinants of coups d'etat within the states of Sub-Saharan Black Africa. When the research problem is changed slightly to focus exclusively on military coups, we find major weaknesses in the original Jackman model. We then extend and refine this model and thereby account in a theoretically meaningful fashion for 91% of the variation in military coups within 35 Black African states from 1960 through 1982. Our major substantive findings indicate that Black African states with relatively dynamic economies whose societies were not very socially mobilized before independence and which have maintained or restored some degree of political participation and political pluralism have experienced fewer military coups, attempted coups, and coup plots than have states with the opposite set of characteristics.

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