Informational Autocrats

47 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2018 Last revised: 3 Aug 2019

See all articles by Sergei Guriev

Sergei Guriev

Sciences Po; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Daniel Treisman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: July 5, 2018

Abstract

In recent decades, dictatorships based on mass repression have largely given way to a new model based on the manipulation of information. Instead of terrorizing citizens into submission, "informational autocrats" artificially boost their popularity by convincing the public they are competent. To do so, they use propaganda and silence informed members of the elite by co-optation or censorship. Using several sources - including a newly created dataset of authoritarian control techniques - we document a range of trends in recent autocracies that fit the theory: a decline in violence, efforts to conceal state repression, rejection of official ideologies, imitation of democracy, a perceptions gap between masses and elite, and the adoption by leaders of a rhetoric of performance rather than one aimed at inspiring fear.

Suggested Citation

Guriev, Sergei and Treisman, Daniel, Informational Autocrats (July 5, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3208523 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3208523

Sergei Guriev (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

HOME PAGE: http://econ.sciences-po.fr/staff/sergei-guriev

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Daniel Treisman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

405 Hilgard Ave.
3265 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1472
United States
650-725-8556 (Phone)
650-723-1687 (Fax)

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