Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • Publication
    The Authoritarian Public Sphere: Legitimation and Autocratic Power in North Korea, Burma, and China (Abstract & Introduction)
    (Routledge, 2017-02)
    Autocracies craft and disseminate reasons, stories, and explanations for why they are entitled to rule. To shield those justifications from criticism, authoritarian regimes also censor information that they find threatening. While committed opponents of the government may be violently repressed, this book is about how the authoritarian state keeps the majority of its people quiescent by manipulating the ways in which they talk and think about politics. It argues that the legitimating messages of an authoritarian regime situated within a circumscribed public sphere limit political discussion, channel political imagination, and narrow public discourse to inhibit the formation of political alternatives. An authoritarian public sphere therefore augments the power of autocratic regimes. Yet no regime, regardless of its power, can completely stifle every criticism that citizens have and therefore relatively autonomous spaces furnish potential opportunities for people to transform private complaints into collective challenges to the regime's ruling ideology. This book evaluates these arguments in contemporary North Korea, Burma (also called Myanmar), and China. It explains how the authoritarian public sphere shapes political discourse in each context and examines three domains for potential subversion of autocratic ideologies: the shadow markets of North Korea, networks of independent journalists in Burma/Myanmar, and the online sphere in China. In addition to making a theoretical contribution to the study of authoritarianism, this book draws upon unique empirical data. From 2011 to 2016 the author conducted fieldwork in the region, including semi-structured interviews with North Korean defectors in South Korea, Burmese exiles in Thailand, and Burmese in Myanmar who stayed in the country during the military government, as well as an academic trip to North Korea and several visits to China. When analyzed alongside state-produced media, speeches, and legislation, interview evidence allows for a rich understanding of how ideologies influence everyday discussions about politics in the authoritarian public sphere.
      495
  • Publication
    What Autocracies Say (and What Citizens Hear): Proposing Four Mechanisms of Autocratic Legitimation
    (Taylor & Francis, 2017-03) ;
    Autocratic governments make claims about why they are entitled to rule. Some autocracies are more talkative than others, but all regimes say something about why they deserve power. This article takes seriously these efforts by introducing and interrogating the concept of autocratic legitimation. After engaging in a definitional discussion, it traces the development of autocratic legitimation in modern political science by identifying major turning points, key concepts, and patterns of inquiry over time. Ultimately, this introductory article aims to not only argue that studying autocratic legitimation is important, but also to propose context, concepts, and distinctions for doing so productively. To this end, the article proposes four mechanisms of autocratic legitimation that can facilitate comparative analysis: indoctrination, passivity, performance, and democratic-procedural. Finally, the essay briefly introduces the five original articles that comprise the remainder of this special issue on autocratic legitimation. The article identifies avenues for further research and identifies how each article in the issue advances down productive pathways of inquiry.
      395Scopus© Citations 75
  • Publication
    Rising Powers and Grassroots Image Management: Confucius Institutes and China in the Media
    (Oxford University Press, 2019-12-13) ;
    This article proposes and tests a mechanism of grassroots image management to explain how rising powers craft an international environment more conducive to their interests. The aim is to promote the state's foreign policy goals by influencing the perceptions of ordinary foreign citizens. To test this mechanism, we examine the impact of China's Confucius Institutes (CIs) as an observable instrument of China's grassroots image management strategy. Using data from the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT), we employ a spatial-temporal approach which finds that proximity to an active CI significantly and substantively improves the tone of media reporting about events relevant to China in that locality. The finding is robust to different specifications and estimation strategies, and is qualitatively consistent with results generated using household opinion data from Afrobarometer surveys. Theoretically, our results suggest the importance of systematically examining presentations and perceptions about rising powers at the popular level, in addition to focusing on elite attitudes, to understand discursive change. More directly, our findings reveal that CIs are helping to improve how China is viewed among foreign publics.
      422Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    Canary in the Coal Mine? China, the UNGA and the Changing World Order
    (Cambridge University Press, 2017) ;
    How China assumes its position of superpower is one of the most important questions regarding global order in the 21st century. While considerable and sustained attention has been paid to China’s growing economic and military might, work examining how China is attempting, if at all, to influence the ecosystem of global norms is in its earlier stages. In this article we examine China’s actions in an important venue for the development of global norms, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Using a unique dataset that captures how other countries move into or out of alignment with China on UNGA resolutions that are repeated over time, we find statistical evidence that China used diplomatic and economic means in an attempt to subtly alter international norms. We further illustrate these findings by examining four states that made substantive moves toward China on resolutions concerning national sovereignty, democracy, international order, non-interference, and human rights.
      671
  • Publication
    Adapting or Freezing? Ideological Reactions of Communist Regimes to a Post-Communist World
    (Cambridge University Press, 2020-07) ;
    This article studies the ideological reactions of communist regimes to the advent of a post-communist world. It examines two cases of reformed communist regimes (China and Vietnam) with two relatively unreformed cases (North Korea and Cuba) to understand different legitimation strategies employed during and after the downfall of the Soviet Union. Theoretically, the article compares two ideal-type approaches to ideology in autocratic regimes. The first approach emphasizes semantic 'freezing' over time. The consistency and coherence of ideology is underlined. The second approach argues that the success of an ideology lies in its ability to be a dynamic, adaptive force that can react with changing circumstances. Four parameters help to distinguish the freeze-frame end from the adaptation pole: (1) the autonomy over semantic changes, (2) the timing, (3) the velocity and (4) the distance that an ideology moves. Using qualitative case-based analysis that is enriched with quantitative text analysis of communist party documents, this article compares these contending conceptions of ideology with each other in the four cases. Sharing similar starting conditions in the 1970s, the article shows how China and Vietnam harnessed a flexible legitimation strategy while North Korea and Cuba adopted a comparatively rigid legitimation approach.
      73Scopus© Citations 9
  • Publication
    Myanmar's Double Transition: Political Liberalization and the Peace Process
    (University of California Press, 2017-07)
    Myanmar has experienced significant political liberalization since 2011. Alongside the political reforms, a peace process to end the country’s several insurgencies has continued. This article analyzes this "double transition" by asking how political liberalization has shaped the peace process. It elaborates six ways that liberalization has influenced the quest for peace.
      615Scopus© Citations 9
  • Publication
    Justifying power: when autocracies talk about themselves and their opponents
    (Taylor & Francis, 2019-01-28) ;
    It is commonly understood that authoritarian regimes attempt to legitimize their rule and de-legitimize opponents. What is less clear is the intensity with which they do so, whether (de-)legitimation varies by institutional structure, and whether and how this intensity varies in times of crisis. To address these questions, this article focuses on the types of messages that autocracies disseminate, how they vary across autocratic regime types, and how they change when confronted with system-challenging movements. The article tests expectations using quantitative events data on government statements, movements and state repression. It also examines a case of a single-party regime faced with a widespread protest movement, namely China in 1989, to investigate whether the quantitative findings manifest themselves in the dynamics of a particular episode. The article finds evidence that autocratic regimes regularly disseminate messages to legitimize their rule and de-legitimize opponents and that single-party regimes generally engage in more (de-)legitimizing rhetoric than other autocratic regime types both during ordinary times and times of regime crisis. In general, regimes scale up their (de-)legitimation efforts when they face a major system-challenging movement as well as when they choose to repress such movements.
      139Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Why Do Some Insurgent Groups Agree to Cease-Fires While Others Do Not? A Within-Case Analysis of Burma/Myanmar, 1948-2011
    (Taylor and Francis, 2015-06-25)
    This article uses Burma/Myanmar from 1948 to 2011 as a within-case context to explore why some armed insurgent groups agree to cease-fires while others do not. Analyzing 33 armed groups it finds that longer-lived groups were less likely to agree to cease-fires with the military government between 1989 and 2011. The article uses this within-case variation to understand what characteristics would make an insurgent group more or less likely to agree to a cease-fire. The article identifies four armed groups for more in-depth qualitative analysis to understand the roles of the administration of territory, ideology, and legacies of distrust with the state as drivers of the decision to agree to or reject a cease-fire.
      638Scopus© Citations 15
  • Publication
    North Korea's Shadow Economy: A Force for Authoritarian Resilience or Corrosion?
    (Taylor and Francis, 2016-05-19)
    An unofficial or 'shadow' economy like that in contemporary North Korea generates countervailing pressures for a socialist regime. It can buttress the regime by facilitating the cynical use of anti-market laws, alleviating shortages, helping the official economy to function, and creating vested interests in the status quo. On the other hand, the shadow economy can corrode the regime’s power by diminishing its control over society, encouraging scepticism about collective ideologies, and providing networks and material that can be used for opposition to the state. This article analyses these tensions in the DPRK, by drawing on 35 semi-structured interviews with North Korean defectors.
      910Scopus© Citations 8