Focal Points, Dissident Calendars, and Preemptive Repression

35 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2016

See all articles by Rory Truex

Rory Truex

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 29, 2016

Abstract

This paper develops and tests a theory that explains temporal variation in repression as a function of the "dissident calendar," the set of events that serve as natural focal points for coordination. The core argument is that regimes can anticipate the events that create these focal points and engage in preemptive repression to survive their passing. This dynamic produces predictable, often cyclical patterns in repression. An analysis of dissident detentions in China from 1998 to 2014 shows that "focal events" alone appear to be responsible for more than 20% of dissident detentions over the analysis period. Such detentions tend to be shorter and rely less on formal criminal procedures, suggesting a "catch-and-release" dynamic. Additional analyses of detentions in Tibet shows how the calendar may vary by issue or group.

Keywords: Repression, detention, focal point, dissidents, authoritarian, collective action, human rights, China, Tibet

Suggested Citation

Truex, Rory, Focal Points, Dissident Calendars, and Preemptive Repression (June 29, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2802859 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2802859

Rory Truex (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

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