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1 - Explaining Autocratic Stability

from Part II - Theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2023

Johannes Gerschewski
Affiliation:
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung
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Summary

Chapter 1 is dedicated to the explanandum of the book. In a first step, the chapter asks how to conceptualize autocratic rule and how to delineate it from rivalling concepts like authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but also sultanism, tyranny, despotism, and dictatorship. In a second step, the chapter clarifies different understandings of stability: persistence vs. continuity. In a third step, the chapter establishes the rationale behind the two logics of autocratic rule. Drawing on a Schmittian conception of the political, over-politicization is portrayed as the process of ideologically inflating a (political, social, religious, ethnic, etc.) difference, thereby defining an absolute foe (hostis), thus justifying the usage of hard repression and relying on formal ways of co-optation. In contrast, de-politicization is the reverse process of neutralizing contested issues, pulling conflictive issues out of the political arena by emphasizing performance legitimation, shying away from hard, but using soft repression and by being indifferent in its forms of co-optation.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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