Informational Autocracy: Theory and Empirics of Modern Authoritarianism.

62 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2015 Last revised: 18 Jun 2018

Sergei M. Guriev

Sciences Po; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Daniel Treisman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 8, 2018

Abstract

In recent decades, dictatorships based on mass repression have largely given way to a new model based on the manipulation of information. Instead of terrorizing citizens into submission, "informational autocrats" artificially boost their popularity by convincing the public they are competent. To do so, they use propaganda and silence informed members of the elite by co- optation or censorship. We develop a formal theory that shows how such regimes work and under what conditions they prevail over democracies or old-style dictatorships. Using several sources|including a newly created dataset of authoritarian control techniques|we document a range of trends in recent autocracies that fit the theory: a decline in violence, efforts to conceal state repression, rejection of official ideologies, imitation of democracy, a perceptions gap between masses and elite, and the adoption by leaders of a rhetoric of performance rather than one aimed at inspiring fear.

Keywords: censorship, dictatorship, propaganda

JEL Classification: D72, P16

Suggested Citation

Guriev, Sergei M. and Treisman, Daniel, Informational Autocracy: Theory and Empirics of Modern Authoritarianism. (June 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2571905 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2571905

Sergei M. Guriev (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

HOME PAGE: http://econ.sciences-po.fr/staff/sergei-guriev

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ( email )

One Exchange Square
London, EC2A 2EH
United Kingdom

Daniel Treisman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

405 Hilgard Ave.
3265 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1472
United States
650-725-8556 (Phone)
650-723-1687 (Fax)

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