Boston APSA 2018

Event date: 
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 22:00

I will be a discussant for the following proposed panel.

APSA panel: Contentious politics, regime change, and democratization


Panel 1


1. Diversity of Resistance Networks and Post-Campaign Democratization

Jessica Maves Braithwaite (Arizona, non-presenting coauthor), Charles Butcher (NTNU, non-presenting coauthor), Jonathan Pinckney (NTNU, presenting author)

A growing body of work examines how dynamics of violent and nonviolent resistance campaigns influence democratization processes, with nonviolent campaigns commonly thought to be more successful at promoting post-campaign democracy. However, we are often forced to make assumptions about these resistance campaigns’ composition, in particular that nonviolent movements are more inclusive and diverse than their violent counterparts. However, there is considerable variation in terms of broad societal support for both violent and nonviolent campaigns. We expect that campaigns featuring greater levels of diversity in the types of social organizations participating in resistance will be more likely to see the evolution of inclusive, multiparty post-conflict political institutions – regardless of the dissent strategies employed during the campaign itself. We reexamine the prospects for democratic advancement following anti-government campaigns by using novel data on social organizations that mobilize in support of rebel groups and mass nonviolent movements in post-Cold War African states.


2. Not a one way street: Coup d'etats, civil society mobilization, and regime change

Marianne Dahl (Peace Research Institute Oslo)

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (University of Essex, Peace Research Institute Oslo)

Coups and civil military relations are an important source of political change, but its impact on transitions to democracy has generated much debate. Whereas some see coups in autocracies with intra-elite divisions and prospects for military defection as forces that can promote transitions to democracy, others emphasize how coups remain more likely to usher in new autocratic regimes, where new elites often consolidate power through repression without meaningful political reform. We distance ourselves from optimists who argue that coups in general (both failed and successful) tend to generate incentives for leaders to democratize. We argue that the expected effects of coups is not inherent to the attempts per se,  but must be considered relative to other forces that help support democratization, such as popular protest from below. Coup attempts are more likely to spur democratization when they occur in the presence of significant popular dissent. In the absence of dissent,  new autocratic rule is more likely. Our analysis of the impact of coups and dissent on subsequent political provides strong evidence consistent with our argument.


3. Social actors and the dynamic of mass resistance campaigns

Sirianne Dahlum (Varieties of Democracy Institute, Gothenburg University)

This study investigates whether the social composition of mass resistance campaigns conditions their choice of tactics and regime-responses. A growing literature investigates the determinants of campaign dynamics, pointing to factors such as the military’s behavior and the structure and size of the campaign. This paper argues that the strategic behavior of campaigns and regimes is also influenced by the social class profile of protest campaign participants, as social background shapes the resources and interests of protesters. I hypothesize that particular urban-based groups – such as urban middle class and public employees – have the resources and interests that facilitate nonviolent strategies. Moreover, social groups with large international networks – such as industrial workers and urban middle class – should be more likely to elicit foreign support. To assess this, I utilize novel data on the social composition of resistance campaigns, recording the involvement of groups such as the urban middle class, industrial workers and public employees.  The paper also investigates whether the class composition of opposition movements affect the regime's decision to use violent repression


4. Luke Abbs. United we Stand, Divided we Fall: Cleavage Structures and the Onset of Nonviolent Resistance

Successful nonviolent resistance often hinges upon the ability of movements to mobilise large and diverse numbers of people against the government. Case literature suggests that social divisions are therefore a key challenge for nonviolent movements as divisions increase participation barriers and undermine intergroup coalitions. Yet how different types of ethnic cleavages impact the emergence of nonviolent action remains poorly understood. Moving beyond assumptions that ethnic groups are monolithic, I argue that cleavages within and between ethnic groups generate divisions that constrain nonviolent mobilisation, while cross-cutting religious cleavages linked to pre-existing religious networks facilitate nonviolent action. I examine this relationship using new data on religious cleavages (EPR Ethnic Dimensions Dataset) that cut both within and across ethnic groups. These cleavage structures are explored across a global analysis of nonviolent campaigns onsets from 1946 to 2013 (Major Episodes of Contention), and the onset of mass nonviolent events in Africa from 1990 to 2008 (SCAD). From these analyses, I find evidence that intra and interethnic cleavages undermine the ability of movements to mobilise, while cross-cutting religious cleavages facilitate nonviolent resistance.

APSA panel: Contentious politics, regime change, and democratization