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Collective Action and Representation in Autocracies: Evidence from Russia's Great Reforms

Forthcoming, American Political Science Review

72 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016 Last revised: 17 Sep 2017

Paul Castañeda Dower

Florida International University

Evgeny Finkel

George Washington University - Department of Political Science

Scott Gehlbach

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Steven Nafziger

Williams College

Date Written: September 6, 2017

Abstract

We explore the relationship between capacity for collective action and representation in autocracies with data from Imperial Russia. Our primary empirical exercise relates peasant representation in new institutions of local self-government to the frequency of peasant unrest in the decade prior to reform. To correct for measurement error in the unrest data and other sources of endogeneity, we exploit idiosyncratic variation in two determinants of peasant unrest: the historical incidence of serfdom and religious polarization. We find that peasants were granted less representation in districts with more frequent unrest in preceding years — a relationship consistent with the Acemoglu-Robinson model of political transitions and inconsistent with numerous other theories of institutional change. At the same time, we observe patterns of redistribution in subsequent years that are inconsistent with the commitment mechanism central to the Acemoglu-Robinson model. Building on these results, we discuss possible directions for future theoretical work.

Suggested Citation

Castañeda Dower, Paul and Finkel, Evgeny and Gehlbach, Scott and Nafziger, Steven, Collective Action and Representation in Autocracies: Evidence from Russia's Great Reforms (September 6, 2017). Forthcoming, American Political Science Review. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2851111

Paul Castañeda Dower (Contact Author)

Florida International University ( email )

University Park
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
United States

Evgeny Finkel

George Washington University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Scott Gehlbach

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-2391 (Phone)

Steven Nafziger

Williams College ( email )

Williamstown, MA 01267
United States

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