Censorship and the Impact of Repression on Dissent

Title Censorship and the Impact of Repression on Dissent
Publication TypeUnpublished
AuthorsPop-eleches G, Way L

t is the impact of repression on opposition to authoritarian rule? Prior research has yielded contradictory results. Some research suggests that repression reduces popular resistance while others show that it creates backlash and more dissent. To account for such divergent findings, in this article we present an informational theory of repression. We argue that the impact of repression hinges on the degree of censorship. Where alternative media is present, violence increases support for opposition. By contrast, where alternative sources of information are limited, repression may actually increase support for incumbents. We test and confirm these expectations using an original panel survey that spanned the authoritarian repression of electoral protests in Moldova in 2009 and combined with geo-coded data on the subnational variation in repression and alternative information availability. The hypothesized interaction between repression and censorship is confirmed in cross-national analysis of repression, censorship and government support (2004-2016).