Grievance Attribution, Mobilization and Mass Opposition to Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from June 1953 in the GDR

Comparative Political Studies 51(12): 1594-1627, DOI: 10.1177/0010414018758757

42 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2015 Last revised: 19 Nov 2018

See all articles by Henry Thomson

Henry Thomson

Arizona State University; Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Date Written: March 2, 2017

Abstract

Mass opposition to authoritarian governments is caused by economic grievances and factors which facilitate mobilization. In this paper, I explore how grievances and mobilization interact to produce revolution with a county-level analysis of the 17 June, 1953 uprising against the socialist dictatorship in East Germany. I find that mobilization capacity was the primary driver of unrest outcomes, but intense economic grievances which were clearly attributable to the regime led to protest among groups with low mobilization potential. Construction workers with dense communications networks were significant instigators of unrest despite moderate grievances. Citizens mobilized in urban areas, but bomb damage and housing shortages did not make independent contributions to unrest. Independent farmers with intense grievances attributable to the regime's agricultural collectivization policies were associated with unrest despite obstacles to mobilization. Theories of authoritarianism and regime change should engage with questions of grievance attribution, repression and mobilization to explain revolutionary threats.

Keywords: authoritarianism, democratization, collective action, revolution, conflict, Germany, East Germany, GDR

JEL Classification: D74

Suggested Citation

Thomson, Henry, Grievance Attribution, Mobilization and Mass Opposition to Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from June 1953 in the GDR (March 2, 2017). Comparative Political Studies 51(12): 1594-1627, DOI: 10.1177/0010414018758757. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2597070 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2597070

Henry Thomson (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

United States

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