A double-edge sword? Mass media and nonviolent dissent in autocracies

Political Research Quarterly

Published On 2023/3

It is often assumed that nondemocratic regimes will control mass media and suppress independent information, but in many autocracies the media are partially free and imperfectly controlled. We argue that partial media freedom can increase the prospects for mass nonviolent dissent. We develop a theory emphasizing how even less than perfectly free media outlets can increase the ability of individuals to coordinate and mobilize, and provide an informational endowment that can help non-state actors overcome collective mobilization barriers. We further argue that this informational endowment amplifies the effect of other influences spurring mass protests in autocracies, in particular protest contagion and elections. We find empirical support for our argument in an analysis of all autocracies between 1955 and 2013. A case study of the Georgian Rose revolution provides further support for the postulated mechanisms.

Journal

Political Research Quarterly

Published On

2023/3

Volume

76

Issue

1

Page

224-238

Authors

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex

Position

Professor Department of Government & Peace Research Institute Oslo

H-Index(all)

60

H-Index(since 2020)

48

I-10 Index(all)

0

I-10 Index(since 2020)

0

Citation(all)

0

Citation(since 2020)

0

Cited By

0

Research Interests

Conflict

international relations

democratization

statistical methods

political science

University Profile Page

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Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

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Silencing Human Rights Defenders Once and for All? Determinants of Human Rights Defenders’ Killings

When are human rights defenders at risk of being killed? Echoing research on journalist killings, we argue that a democratic context makes it easier for human rights defenders to operate and incentivizes them to continue activities and to pursue information that puts them at risk. De jure protections that defenders have may not be enforced or may not protect defenders from bad actors engaging in politically motivated murder. These factors make human rights defenders more likely to be killed by actors trying to avoid the spotlight and exposure in democratic systems than in other types of regimes. Autocratic regimes provide fewer opportunities to freely advocate for human rights and to pursue or disseminate information about human rights violations by state or non-state actors, reducing the likelihood of defender mortality. Using two new sets of cross-national data on the number of killings of human rights defenders …

John Scott

John Scott

University of California, Davis

Political Research Quarterly

Rousseau and the Development of Identity

Scholars from very different interpretive traditions agree that Rousseau’s conception of human nature and the self constitutes a pivotal point in the history of philosophy. I focus on one important aspect of his investigation into human nature and the self: the development of identity. I reconstruct his understanding of the development of identity as articulated in the Discourse on Inequality and Emile, focusing on the psychological interplay of identity and identification involved in the formation of the self. Finally, I turn to a discussion of how his theory of the development of identity informs his specifically political theory, and especially the extralegal institutions and practices he suggests for forming a strong political identity.

Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen

University of Lincoln

Political Research Quarterly

Is Public Ignorance a Problem? An Epistemic Defense of Really Existing Democracies

Does good governance require citizens to be knowledgeable of basic facts and best policy ideas? Some scholars suggest that it does, and propose disenfranchising the most ‘ignorant’ voters. In contrast, we argue, political systems are complex systems inevitably exhibiting incomplete, imperfect and asymmetric information that is dynamically generated in society from actors with diverse life experiences, antagonistic interests and often profoundly dissonant views and values, generating radical uncertainty among political elites over the consequences of their decisions. Radical uncertainty, radical dissonance and power asymmetry are inescapable properties of politics. Good performance significantly depends on how political elites navigate through radical uncertainty to handle radical dissonance. Democracy, by offering citizens equal rights to participate in politics and talk freely, both enables and compels political …