Information and Revolution
31 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 2017
How does the Internet affect authoritarian regimes? This article argues that while the Internet has made mass mobilization easier than ever, its spread has also counter-intuitively allowed savvy authoritarian regimes to become more stable than ever. For the population, higher technical literacy means a demonstrable decrease in transaction costs and thus a greater incidence of collective action. However, higher regime technical literacy gives authoritarians the capacity to monitor their populations and solve the dictator’s information problem, thus keeping their populations satisfied without needing to liberalize. The article compiles a new and original data set of measures of technical literacy across all states since the year 2000, and uses a factor analysis approach to construct latent measures of population and regime technical literacy for all country-years. A large-n, cross-country empirical approach finds strong evidence of the theorized relationship between technical literacy and revolution.
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