The Dramaturgy of Authoritarian Elite Cohesion

42 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 28 Aug 2012

See all articles by Andreas Schedler

Andreas Schedler

Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)

Bert Hoffmann

GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies

Date Written: August 24, 2012

Abstract

The most important facts about the actors and factors that sustain authoritarian rule are unobservable and uncertain. To demonstrate their power, authoritarian rulers have to render them visible. They have to play political theater and present on the front stage what they want people to know about the backstage of authoritarian politics. Dictatorship breeds opacity and opacity breeds dramaturgy. In this essay, we study the dramaturgical foundations of authoritarian rule with a focus on the primary existential threats dictators face: the lateral threats that emanate from within the authoritarian elite. After introducing authoritarian dramaturgy as a strategy of information management, we survey the conceptual landscape of authoritarian elite cohesion. We illustrate the dramaturgical repertoire of authoritarian rulers with empirical material from one politically salient case: communist Cuba since 2006, during the critical juncture of leadership transition from Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl.

Keywords: authoritarian regimes, uncertainty, imperfect information, dramaturgy, leadership succession, Cuba

Suggested Citation

Schedler, Andreas and Hoffmann, Bert, The Dramaturgy of Authoritarian Elite Cohesion (August 24, 2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108768

Andreas Schedler (Contact Author)

Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) ( email )

Carretera Mexico Toluca 3655
Col. Lomas de Santa Fe
Mexico City, Mexico 01210
Mexico

Bert Hoffmann

GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies ( email )

Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
Hamburg, D-20354
Germany

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