The phenomenon of armed associations will firstly be studied from a national perspective. That should outline the national political framework which influenced the armed associations operating within a given country.
In order to define the general political, cultural and social national framework within which various armed associations acted, the political, cultural, social and economic characteristics of each country will be analyzed in terms of policing policies, the effectiveness of state institutions, general political, social or economic features, political cultures, legislation, etc.
Armed associations operating within a specific national framework will be then studied as to determine the social background and equipment of these groups, and of their diffusion across the national territory. The analysis will be based on primary sources (national archives, the national press) as well as secondary sources (books of the period, memoirs, diaries, etc.)
The analysis of individual countries and of the various local realities and armed associations operating within their boundaries will allow to:
a) provide a general overview of the spread and nature of organised violence in a given country
b) carry out a comparison on a national level to isolate local specificities as well as to reveal nation-wide trends. In this way, the local cases will significantly contribute to deepening our knowledge of each country by allowing us, for instance, to test how policing policies were actually put into effect across different regions. At the same time, it will also be possible to understand how local armed associations were able to exert some influence on national politics, for example by fuelling social conflicts and disorders (as in the case of the Yellow Trade unions in Northern France).