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How Dictatorships Work
Power, Personalization, and Collapse

$29.99 (G)

  • Date Published: August 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107535954

$ 29.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • This accessible volume shines a light on how autocracy really works by providing basic facts about how post-World War II dictatorships achieve, retain, and lose power. The authors present an evidence-based portrait of key features of the authoritarian landscape with newly collected data about 200 dictatorial regimes. They examine the central political processes that shape the policy choices of dictatorships and how they compel reaction from policy makers in the rest of the world. Importantly, this book explains how some dictators concentrate great power in their own hands at the expense of other members of the dictatorial elite. Dictators who can monopolize decision making in their countries cause much of the erratic, warlike behavior that disturbs the rest of the world. By providing a picture of the central processes common to dictatorships, this book puts the experience of specific countries in perspective, leading to an informed understanding of events and the likely outcome of foreign responses to autocracies.

    • Sheds light on central aspects of how authoritarian politics works in practice
    • Leverages newly collected data about politics within 200 dictatorial regimes to generate an evidence-based portrait of key features of the authoritarian landscape
    • Examines the central political processes that shape the policy choices of dictatorships and how they compel reaction from policy makers in the rest of the world
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘How Dictatorships Work artfully combines the minutia of autocratic rule – as with the Turkmen dictator naming his dentist as his successor after successfully replacing his teeth with gold - with rigorous attention to general patterns based on an assiduously collected and award-winning dataset in order to illuminate the multifarious challenges faced by ‘seizure groups' and their leaders that seek to consolidate rule and stave off oppositional conspiracies.' David D. Laitin, Stanford University, California

    ‘This book is a landmark contribution on the logics of autocratic rule. With insightful theorizing, novel empirical data and captivating historical detail, the authors offer answers to some of the most critical questions about autocratic rule: why some autocrats establish stable governments while others suffer continuous revolts? Why some create pseudo democratic institutions and others do not? Why some distribute benefits broadly while others concentrate these among a small group of regime loyalists? This book will set the agenda for the study of authoritarianism for years to come.' Beatriz Magaloni, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, California

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107535954
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. Initiation:
    2. Autocratic seizures of power
    3. What do we know about coups?
    Part II. Elite Consolidation:
    4. Power concentration: the effect of elite factionalism on personalization
    5. Dictatorial survival strategies in challenging conditions: factionalized armed supporters and party creation
    Part III. Ruling Society: Implementation and Information Gathering:
    6. Why parties and elections in dictatorships?
    7. Double-edged swords: specialized institutions for monitoring and coercion
    Part IV. Dictatorial Survival and Breakdown:
    8. Why dictatorships fall
    9. Conclusion and policy implications.

  • Authors

    Barbara Geddes, University of California, Los Angeles
    Barbara Geddes is a professor of Political Science at University of California, Los Angeles. Her 1999 article in the Annual Review of Political Science is credited with changing the way social scientists think about dictatorships. She developed the theoretical reasons for using characteristics of the group that established the dictatorship as the basis for explaining dictatorial decisions and began the first systematic collection of data about these groups and the dictatorships they initiated. She has written extensively on regime transition and dictatorship, as well as research design in comparative politics.

    Joseph Wright, Pennsylvania State University
    Joseph Wright is an associate professor of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University and co-director of the Global and International Studies Program. He has written extensively on how international factors, such as foreign aid, economic sanctions, human rights prosecutions, and migration, influence domestic politics in dictatorships. He is the author of multiple articles on these themes published in a variety of political science journals, as well as the award-winning book (with Abel Escriba-Folch) Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival (2015).

    Erica Frantz, Michigan State University
    Erica Frantz is an assistant professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. She specializes in authoritarian politics, democratization, conflict, and development. She is particularly interested in communicating the security and policy implications of autocratic rule and regularly interfaces with the policy community. Her work has appeared in multiple academic journals and a variety of policy-oriented outlets. She has also published five books on dictatorships and development, the most recent of which is Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (forthcoming).

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