A Theory of Demographically Targeted Repression

Journal of Conflict Resolution (Forthcoming)

45 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2018 Last revised: 21 Jan 2020

See all articles by Arturas Rozenas

Arturas Rozenas

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

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

Suggested Citation

Rozenas, Arturas, A Theory of Demographically Targeted Repression (January 18, 2020). Journal of Conflict Resolution (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3180747 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3180747

Arturas Rozenas (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4
New York, NY 10012
United States

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