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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: July 2009



This chapter challenges many of the assumptions characterizing the extant and relevant literature on state repression. Specifically, I argue for a more disaggregated and nuanced conception of the repressive process than is normally adopted. I use this approach to develop hypotheses that guide the statistical analyses in Chapters 4 and 5.

Disaggregating Repression

All of the quantitative research on state coercion differentiates political authorities only by the extent to which they restrict and/or kill their citizens. The former includes behavior such as the outlawing of the African National Congress in South Africa under Apartheid (1960); the latter includes behavior such as the killing of students at the University of San Carlos by the Guatemalan military during the mid-1970s and 1980s. Interestingly, these two repressive strategies (imposing restrictions and enacting violence) are normally treated interchangeably within the literature. For example, individuals investigating each of these activities employ similar theoretical frameworks, explanatory variables, and statistical models, and they frequently cite one another, suggesting that they are addressing different types of the same phenomenon [for example, considering negative sanctions, see Davenport (1995b); considering political violence, see Poe and Tate (1994)].

However, are state-sponsored restriction and violence equivalent? Do these two repressive strategies and/or distinct combinations between them respond to the same causal forces, or are their determinants distinct? Ignored within prior research, these are addressed here.

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