Christian Davenport (University of Michigan) – Stopping State Repression An Inquiry into Spells

Stopping State Repression An Inquiry into Spells

Since World War II, it has been a global priority to stop ongoing, large-scale state repressive activity – hereafter LSSR (i.e., government sponsored, violent action that is both widespread and systematic). With this objective in mind, policymakers, NGOs and activists have suggested as well as implemented a number of policies, including military intervention, economic sanctions, naming/shaming, international law, preferential trade agreements, political democratization and non-violent direct action – all are presumed to diminish state repression because they increase the costs of such activity. What (if anything) works? What stops LSSR? Despite the significant amount of interest in this question, we still know very little about it (e.g., De Waal and Conley-Zilkic 2006; Bellamy 2015). The primary reason for this limitation is that almost all empirically rigorous work has been focused on understanding what accounts for variation within levels of repression (i.e., what moves repressive behavior up or down some scale) and what impact diverse cost-producing factors have had on this phenomenon. While related and providing important insights, this variation work is largely focused on something quite different from termination in terms of theory, data structure and appropriate estimation. To shed light on this important topic, the current paper draws upon prior research but shifts the focus from variation in repression levels to termination of repressive spells. Here, we argue that not all costs are comparable to political authorities in terms of their centrality to state repression and that political actors involved in relevant activity are more likely to stay with enacted behavior unless something major changes in their environment.

Christian Davenport is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan as well as a Faculty
Associate at the Center for Political Studies and Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo
(PRIO). Primary research interests include political conflict (e.g., human rights violations, genocide/politicide, torture, political surveillance, civil war and social movements), measurement, racism and popular culture.

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Date(s) - 22 January 2021
12h00 - 13h30

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