Preventing Mass Mobilization: Autocratic Responses to Revolutionary Threats
34 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2012 Last revised: 12 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 11, 2015
Revolutionary movements depend on mass mobilization. To prevent revolt, autocrats can use domestic and foreign policy instruments. We model the autocrat's policy choice with a focus on the coordination problem that underlies revolutionary mobilization. We show that the relationship between revolutionary threats and policy responses may be non-monotonic. Smaller threats may actually provide stronger incentives for autocrats to prevent mobilization, since policies are more cost-effective when threats are low. Furthermore, we show that domestic and foreign policies can serve as substitutes or complements. We argue that these insights help resolve contradictory empirical results.
Keywords: autocracy, cooptation, repression, foreign diversion, revolution, global games
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