This paper proposes a new research agenda on local wartime institutions. It focuses on the locality because war often segments territory, making localities the key locus of choice. To advance this research agenda this paper argues there is, indeed, great variation in wartime local institutions by relying on systematic, quantitative and qualitative original data on Colombia.
Second, this paper proposes a way to conceptualise the set of norms and arrangements that structure political, economic, and social interactions in war zones; for this purpose, the author introduces the concept of wartime social order, presents a typology, and assesses its quality both theoretically and empirically. Theoretically, it argues that the typology identifies a variation that is relevant: we have reasons to inquire about its causes, and we can expect it to influence other important phenomena both during wartime and in its aftermath. Empirically, this paper uses cluster analysis to show that the typology identifies distinct types—that is, they are internally homogenous but differ drastically from each other. It also argues that the typology is parsimonious because it identifies only three types but still has great descriptive and explanatory potential.
Finally, this paper discusses how this typology could advance our understanding of different wartime and postwar phenomena and makes a plea for incorporating institutions to our study of micro-, meso- and macro-level outcomes. The goal is not to provide a theory of wartime institutions; rather, this paper seeks to show that different institutional arrangements emerge in war zones, argues that they warrant attention, and offers a way to conceptualise them.