Conflict Breeds Conflict: Evaluating the Relationship Between Retaliatory Measures of State Repression and Political Dissent

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Yang, Alexis Jihye, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Potter, Philip, AS-Dept of Politics, University of Virginia
Schulhofer-Wohl, Jonah, LB-Univ Librarian-General, University of Virginia

Repression is a tool used by states not only to quell political dissent, but also to suppress and deter support for insurgents. To do so successfully, states strategically employ different forms of repressive measures to achieve their means. However, while the literature is in agreement that there is a positive relationship between dissent and repression, the mechanism behind this process remains obscured. The significance of understanding this mechanism lies in its potential contribution towards developing a more nuanced understanding of conflict and repression dynamics – specifically by addressing concerns of tactical adaptation by dissidents to evaluate the efficacy of using different methods of repressive measures to suppress dissent. The purpose of this paper is to build a theoretical explanation for this mechanism, taking an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating insights from relevant literature in political sociology and organizational theory to build upon the extant work in the conflict literature. I go on to test the soundness of my theory by identifying the specific conditions which prompts states to use repression in retaliation, and why they diversify the methods of repression they carry out. I argue that both the initial decision of the state to implement repressive measures, as well as employing a specific method of repression is a function of the level of threat that the dissidents/insurgents poses to the state, contingent on the type of goals, perpetrators, and tactics that have been used for the specific instance of conflict the regime is retaliating against. Preliminary findings from an empirical analysis using the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcome (NAVCO) v.3.0 dataset provides some evidence to support for my predictions. This theoretical framework serves to provide the foundations for future research on conflict dynamics of tactical interaction between the state’s use of repression and dissident

MA (Master of Arts)
state repression, conflict dynamics, political violence, contestation
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