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Smart Library on Globalization > Genocide > Topic 1: Defining Genocide > Overview: Defining Genocide
Genocide Is Only One Type of Government Mass Murder
There are many different ways that governments and regimes kill people. These patterns of killing by governments, or democide, show distinct patterns.
Genocide involves the intentional killing of people because of their race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. A closely related notion, politicide, involves killing groups of people because of their political beliefs or associations.
However, these are not the only types of government killing. R. J. Rummel coins a broader term, democide, to include all types of intentional government or regime killing. Democide does not include killing combatants in a conflict or judicial executions (capital punishment).
Rummel collected data on all democides by all regimes between 1900 and 1987. He not only identified patterns of government killing, or democide, but described factors that predict what kinds of regimes are likely to carry out democide.
Kinds of Democide
Rummel defines 14 different kinds of democide.
But, different types of killing tend to go hand in hand and several of the above measures include murders that fall into other categories as well. For example, victims of genocide can be killed in prisons or camps. What patterns do we actually see?
Rummel carries out a statistical procedure to see which of the above types of democide tend to occur together. He identifies five main patterns:
What Rummel's analysis tells us is that different primary causes and conditions are in play for each of the five main types. For instance, the reasons for genocide and conditions under which genocide occurs are distinct from the other four types. The main cause of genocide is different than the main cause of democidal bombing or domestic democide.
Data and Methods:
These data are based on almost 8,200 estimates of war, domestic violence, genocide, mass murder, and other relevant data recorded from over 1,000 sources (including general works, specialized studies, human rights reports, journal articles and news sources). Tables of estimates and a statistical overview of the data are contained in other publications by the same author.
In order to test hypotheses, the author proceeded through several steps:
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Rummel, R. J. 1995. "Democracy, Power, Genocide, and Mass Murder." Journal of Conflict Resolution 39:3-26.
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