Repression After Liberalization: Organizational Embeddedness and Protest Policing in a Hybrid Context

46 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018 Last revised: 30 Oct 2018

See all articles by Chantal Berman

Chantal Berman

Princeton University, Department of Politics

Date Written: September 1, 2018


Hybrid non-democracies may repress their civil societies less than full authoritarian regimes, but we know little about the elite strategies guiding the use of state violence against protest groups in a hybrid context. This paper develops an event-level model of protest policing centering the role of social movement organizations (SMOs) in shaping elite threat perceptions and, hence, the likelihood that affiliated protest events will face repression. More than public protest per se, I argue that elites fear the rise of independent organizations capable of initiating and sustaining mobilization. In a hybrid context, SMOs will vary widely in their level of embeddedness with state institutions, ranging from anti-system groups to newer organizations that work collaboratively with the state to legacy civil society groups that served as corporatist brokers of mass representation prior to the onset of liberalizing reforms. Unable to control ex ante which groups become active in civil society, elites apply coercive sanctions to protests by less-embedded CSOs in order to channel mass participation towards friendlier groups. I illustrate these arguments with micro-level sub-national analysis of the Morocco Contentious Event Database (MCED), a unique dataset of protest events and coercive responses collected from local Arabic-language news sources over a ten-year period. Three nested analyses exploit different scales of comparison and contextualize these findings with a sociological account of civil society in Morocco.

Keywords: Protest; Repression; Authoritarianism; Middle East; Morocco

Suggested Citation

Berman, Chantal, Repression After Liberalization: Organizational Embeddedness and Protest Policing in a Hybrid Context (September 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Chantal Berman (Contact Author)

Princeton University, Department of Politics ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

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