Options in the Arsenal: Are Repressive Tactics Complements or Substitutes?
32 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 18 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
Leaders can select from a myriad of repressive techniques to quell their domestic po- litical opposition. In this project, we investigate (1) why states differ in their choice of repressive tactics, and (2) how individual states combine and trade-off between repressive tactics. In the absence of existing work on repressive policy complementarity and substitutability, we turn to the political science literature on foreign policy substitutability and the economics literature on complementarity and substitutability. By focusing on the expected costs and benefits of repression in general and of imprisonment, torture, and state-sponsored killing in particular, we develop a theory about the conditions under which state leaders choose packages of repressive techniques and/or substitute one repressive policy for another. We argue that leaders respond to the increasing costliness of type of repression by limiting the use of that tactic and ramping up other violations (i.e., through substitution), or by adding additional tactics into the mix to minimize tactic-specific costs (i.e., through complementarity).
Keywords: human rights, repression, substitutability, complementarity
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