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Autocracies and the Control of Societal Organizations

  • Marie-Eve Reny (a1)


Authoritarian regimes seek to prevent formal and informal organizations in society from engaging in mobilized dissent. What strategies do they use to do so, and what explains their choices? I posit that state actors in autocracies use four mechanisms to control societal organizations: repression, coercion, cooptation and containment. How they control these organizations depends on whether they think they might undermine political stability. Two factors inform that assessment. First is whether state actors think societal organizations’ interests are reconcilable with regime resilience. Second is whether groups are in national or international networks that are either cohesive or incohesive. While the irreconcilability of interests influences state actors’ perceptions of groups as subversive, network cohesion shapes organizations’ capacity for large-scale mobilization.


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