SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Mr Dariusz Dziewanski

BCom (Victoria), MA (Carleton)
  • Research


Dariusz Dziewanski
Mr Dariusz Dziewanski
Email address:
Thesis title:
Institutionalized violence? Examining the role of informal institutions in armed violence in South Africa
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Armed violence is one of South Africa’s defining features. The scale of violence prompts some to argue that informal institutions that legitimize armed violence – that is, the socially shared rules, usually unwritten, that are created, communicated, and enforced outside of officially sanctioned channels – have made it normal rather than deviant. However, the reality is that the way that armed violence is manifested, and thought about, in South Africa varies greatly. This is perhaps to be expected in such a fragmented society. The proposed research project, thus, examines whether armed violence is indeed institutionalized in South Africa. The project takes new institutional theory as a starting point, interspersing it with relevant aspects of related theories – most prominently criminology – and overlaying this synthesized theoretical model onto what is currently known about armed violence in South Africa. Using this theoretical model, research will, firstly, explore the nature and composition of the informal institutions that contribute to, and protect against, armed violence in South Africa. Secondly, it will examine how these informal institutions are distributed throughout South African society. Finally, research will analyse the drivers of (what is likely an uneven) institutional distribution. The project will have specific practical implications for policies and programmes that are aimed at promoting disarmament and security through institutional change, as well as general implications for development policies and programmes that are aimed at changing informal institutions.


2011. Peace without Security: Gender-based Violence and the Insecurity of Women and Girls in Liberia. Issue brief for the Liberian Armed Violence Assessment.

2010. “Young Guns: Guns, Youth and the Mediation of Violence.” Gun Violence. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.

2010. Health Related Costs of Armed Violence in Liberia: A Preliminary Assessment. Background paper for the Small Arms Survey.

2008. Overcoming Material Deficits with Social Surpluses. Paper presented at the 2nd Human Security and Cities Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 3-4 March 2008.


Identity-based violence, armed violence, gender-based violence, security system reform, rule of law, informal institutions, South Africa, and West Africa.