A Theory of Demographically Targeted Repression
Journal of Conflict Resolution (Forthcoming)
45 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2018 Last revised: 21 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 18, 2020
People from specific ethnic, religious, or other externally identifiable groups are often subjected to harsher repression than others. This phenomenon of demographically targeted repression is often viewed as a result of xenophobia. I provide a rationalist explanation of demographic targeting to understand why this form of repression is employed even without xenophobic motives. Building on the empirical literature, I model an environment where a threat of repression may motivate people to oppose the regime defensively. I show that, in such conditions, the regime may use demographic targeting to undermine cross-group collective action. The model explains when demographic targeting is used and how it shapes the behavior and identity of citizens. I use the model to make sense of certain aspects of repression policy in China.
Keywords: Repression, Collective Action, Autocracy, Discrimination
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