Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2014

Comparative Authoritarianism

Lecturer: Assistant Professor Joseph Wright,
Department of Political Science,
Pennsylvania State University, USA

Main discipline: Political Science

Dates: 21 - 25 July 2014
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 25 participants


Course objectives
How does authoritarian rule arise and why does it persist? How do dictatorships differ from democracy and how do dictatorships differ from each other? Why do autocracies so often have democratic-looking political institutions such as support parties, legislatures and elections? Do these features of autocratic rule help dictatorships retain power, or do they undermine regime stability? This course helps answer these questions by examining the domestic sources autocratic regime stability.

The course covers comparative authoritarian regimes in the post-WWII era. The course begins with a brief introduction to historical treatments of authoritarian rule and then examines influential theories about the distributional foundations of dictatorships. Second, the course surveys the current literature on comparative authoritarianism by introducing theories about different categories of dictatorships such as personal rule, military dictatorships, and dominant party regimes. Third, the course examines the origins and consequences of political institutions – such as legislatures, parties, and elections – in authoritarian regimes. The course closes with a critical assessment of the institutional approach.


Requirements
Students are expected to: (1) attend all seminars; (2) read assigned material and be prepared to discuss the material before each seminar meeting; and (3) complete a final essay.


Written assignments
The final essay question will be given at the final lecture. Essays (6000 to 8,000 words) are to be completed within 8 weeks after the course is held. If the student passes, s/he earns 10 points to her/his PhD-account (10 points in the ECTS-system).


Reading materials
The following books are important for students of comparative authoritarianism.

  • Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levitsky, Steven & Lucan Way. 2010. Competitive Authoritarianism: The Origins and Evolution of Hybrid Regimes in the Post-Cold War Era. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Magaloni, Beatriz. 2007. Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and its Demise in Mexico. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press.



LECTURE OUTLINE

Lecture 1: Introduction to the study of authoritarian rule
This lecture briefly surveys key historical approaches to studying non-democratic rule; and then introduces a few influential theoretical models of autocratic rule.

Readings

  1. Haber, Stephen. 2006. “Authoritarian Government.” In Barry Weingast and Donald Wittman eds., The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy. New York: Oxford University Press
  2. Shepsle, Kenneth A. and Mark S. Boncheck. 1997. Analyzing Politics. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. pp. 82-91, 103-127.

Recommended readings

  • Geddes, Barbara. 1999. “What do we know about democratization after twenty years?” Annual Review of Political Science 2(1): 115-144.
  • Wintrobe, Ronald. 2000. The Political Economy of Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 2.
  • Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson & James D. Morrow. 2003. The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge: MIT Press. Chapter 3.


Lecture 2: Redistributive foundations
This lecture introduces theories of redistributive politics that underpin theories that explain the origins of dictatorship.

Reading

  1. Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson. 2006. Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 92-109, 118-151.

Recommended reading

  • Smith, Benjamin. 2008. “Rethinking the Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: The Continuing Value of Cases and Comparisons.” APSA-CP 19(1): 16-20.
  • Kaufman, Robert R. 2011. “The Political Effects of Inequality in Latin America: Some Inconvenient Facts.” Comparative Politics 41(3): 359-379.
  • Haggard, Stephan, and Robert R. Kaufman. 2012. “Inequality and regime change: Democratic transitions and the stability of democratic rule.” American Political Science Review 106(3): 1-22.


Lecture 3: Autocratic regimes
Dictatorships appear in almost every region of the world and come in a variety of different forms. This lecture discusses approaches to defining non-democratic rule and autocratic regimes as well as approaches to categorizing different types of autocracies.

Readings

  1. Cheibub, Jose Antonio, Jennifer Gandhi, and James Raymond Vreeland. 2010. “Dictatorship and Democracy Revisited.” Public Choice 143(1-2): 67-101.
  2. Geddes, Barbara, Joseph Wright, and Erica Frantz. 2014. “Autocratic Breakdown and Regime Transitions: A New Data Set.” Perspectives on Politics. Forthcoming.

 

Recommended reading

  • Hadenius, Axel and Jan Teorell. 2007. “Pathways from Authoritarianism.” Journal of Democracy 18(1): 143-155
  • Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1.
  • Levitsky, Steven & Lucan Way. 2010. Competitive Authoritarianism: The Origins and Evolution of Hybrid Regimes in the Post-Cold War Era. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1. Appendix I.
  • Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2.


Lecture 4: Personal rule
Why do some autocratic rulers consolidate personal political power? How do they succeed in diminishing alternative sources of political power that often reside in the military or in political parties? This lecture introduces theories about the origins of personalist rule in dictatorships and surveys important empirical applications that distinguish personalist autocracies from other types of dictatorships.

Readings

  1. Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 3.
  2. Geddes, Barbara, Erica Frantz, and Joseph Wright. “Autocratic Rule.” unpublished book manuscript. Chapter 4.

 

Recommended reading

  • Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. “How countries democratize.” Political Science Quarterly 106(4): 579-616.
  • Bratton, Michael & Nicolas van de Walle. 1994. “Neo-Patrimonial Regimes and Political Transitions in Africa.” World Politics 46: 453-489.
  • Chehabi, H.E., and Juan J. Linz. 1998. “A Theory of Sultanism: A Type of Nondemocratic Rule.” in Sultanistic Regimes. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.


Lecture 5: Military rule
While only a handful of dictatorships today are ruled by military officers, we can still learn a lot about authoritarianstabilitybyexploringwhymilitaryinterventionoccursindictatorships. Thislectureintroduces theories of military rule and discusses different approaches to measuring military involvement in autocratic regimes.

Readings

  1. Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 5.
  2. Geddes, Barbara, Erica Frantz, and Joseph Wright. 2014. “Military Rule.” Annual Review of Political Science. 17(1): Forthcoming.

 

Recommended reading

  • Stepan, Alfred. 1971. The Military in Politics: Changing Patterns in Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 213-252.
  • Pinkney, Robert. 1972. Ghana Under Military Rule: 1966-1969. London: Methuen and Co Ltd. pp: 118-138.
  • Nordlinger, Eric. 1977. Soldiers in politics: military coups and governments. Prentice Hall. pp. 47-56, 60-61, 65-85, 99-106, 141-147, 178-82.


Lecture 6: Dominant party rule
Dominant party dictatorships have historically been the most stable forms of dictatorships in the past sixty years. This lecture discusses theories of stable dominant party rule using a case study of Mexico.

Reading

  1. Magaloni, Beatriz. 2007. Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and its Demise in Mexico. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 2-4.

 

Recommended reading

  • Greene, Kenneth. 2010. “The Political Economy of Single-Party Dominance.” Comparative Political Studies 43(7): 807-834.
  • Magaloni, Beatriz, and Ruth Kricheli. 2010. “Political order and one-party rule.” Annual Review of Political Science 13: 123-143.
  • Malesky, Edmund, Regina Abrami and Yu Zheng. 2011. “Institutions and Inequality in Single-Party Regimes: A Comparative Analysis of Vietnam and China.” Comparative Politics 43(4): 409-427.


Lecture 7: Institutions
Many dictatorships have democratic-looking political institutions such as support parties, legislatures, and elections. While early scholars of authoritarianism assumed these institutions were “window-dressing” that might provide the regime with popular legitimacy, more recent scholarship examines strategic explanations for their existence. This lecture introduces the main arguments for why dictators have political institutions.

Readings

  1. Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 3.
  2. Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 4.
  3. Geddes, Barbara, Erica Frantz, and Joseph Wright. “Autocratic Rule.” unpublished book manuscript. Chapter 5.

 

Recommended reading

  • Smith, Benjamin. 2005. “Life of the party: The origins of regime breakdown and persistence under single-party rule.” World Politics 57(3): 421-451.
  • Magaloni, Beatriz. 2008. “Credible power-sharing and the longevity of authoritarian rule.” Comparative Political Studies. 41(4-5): 715-741.
  • Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 6.


Lecture 8: Institutional consequences
This lecture introduces research that examines how political institutions in dictatorships influence important economic outcomes.

Readings

  1. Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 5.
  2. Wright, Joseph. 2008. “Do authoritarian institutions constrain? How legislatures affect economic growth and investment.” American Journal of Political Science 52(2): 322-343.
  3. Gehlbach, Scott, and Philip Keefer. 2012. “Private Investment and the Institutionalization of Collective Action in Autocracies: Ruling Parties and Legislatures.” The Journal of Politics 74(2): 621-635.

 

Recommended reading

  • Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 4 and 6.
  • Wright, Joseph, and Abel Escriba-Folch. 2012. “Authoritarian Institutions and Regime Survival: Transitions to Democracy and Subsequent Autocracy.” British Journal of Political Science 42(2): 283-309.
  • Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2013. “Dealing with Dictators: Negotiated Democratization and the Fate of Outgoing Autocrats.” International Studies Quarterly. Forthcoming.


Lecture 9: Elections
The majority of dictatorships now have elections, many of them multiparty or multicandidate contests for national executive positions. Though increasingly common, electoral authoritarianism is by no means only a post-Cold War phenomenon. This lecture discusses theories that explain why dictators have elections and the consequences of elections for regime durability.

Readings

  1. Gandhi, Jennifer and Ellen Lust. 2009. “Elections Under Authoritarianism.” Annual Review of Political Science 12: 403-422.
  2. Levitsky, Steven & Lucan Way. 2010. Competitive Authoritarianism: The Origins and Evolution of Hybrid Regimes in the Post-Cold War Era. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2.

 

Recommended reading

  • Cox, Gary. 2009. “Authoritarian Elections and Leadership Succession.” unpublished manuscript.
  • Hyde, Susan & Nikolay Marinov. 2012. “Which Elections Can Be Lost?” Political Analysis 20(2): 191-210.
  • Little, Andrew. 2013. “An Informational Theory of Noncompetitive Elections.” unpublished manuscript.


Lecture 10: The institutional debate
While a growing empirical literature shows that cross-national differences in the observed incidence of political institutions in dictatorships is correlated with many important political and economic outcomes, recent studies critically examine the causal role of political institutions in non-democratic settings. This lecture introduces these criticisms and discusses potential avenues for further research.

Readings

  1. Brancati, Dawn. 2014. “Democratic Authoritarianism: Origins and Effects.” Annual Review of Political Science 17: Forthcoming.
  2. Pepinsky, Thomas. 2014. “The Institutional Turn in Comparative Authoritarianism.” British Journal of Political Science. Forthcoming.
  3. Honaker, James and Joseph Wright. 2014. “The Structure of Autocratic Rule.” unpublished manuscript.

 

Recommended reading

  • Malesky, Edmund, and Paul Schuler. 2010. “Nodding or needling: Analyzing delegate responsiveness in an authoritarian parliament.” American Political Science Review 104(3): 482-502.
  • Slater, Dan, and Sofia Fenner. 2011. “State Power and Staying Power: Infrastructural Mechanisms and Authoritarian Durability.” Journal of International Affairs 65(1): 15-29.

 

The lecturer
Joseph Wright is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University and currently holds the Jeffrey L. and Sharon D. Hyde Early Career Professorship. He studies comparative political economy and autocratic politics, with a particular interest in how international factors - such as foreign aid, economic sanctions, human rights prosecutions and migration - influence domestic politics in autocratic contexts. He completed his Ph.D. at UCLA in 2007. Previously, he was a post-doctoral research associate at Princeton University and a visiting faculty fellow at the University of Notre Dame. His research has been published or is forth-coming in the American Journal of Political Science, the Annual Review of Political Science, the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Politics, and Perspectives on Politics. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Minerva Research Initiative.

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Tags: Politics, Political Economy, Political Science, Summer School, Comparative Politics, Autocracy, Dictatorship, Authoritarianism
Published Dec. 16, 2013 11:27 AM - Last modified Sep. 12, 2017 2:17 PM