Transparency, Protest, and Autocratic Instability

James R. Hollyer, B. Peter Rosendorff, James Raymond Vreeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

The collapse of autocratic regimes is often brought about through large-scale mobilization and collective action by elements of the populace. The willingness of any given member of the public to participate in actions such as strikes and protests is contingent upon her beliefs about others' willingness to similarly mobilize. In this article, we examine the effect of a specific form of transparency-the disclosure of economic data by the government-on citizen belief formation, and consequently on collective mobilization. We present a theoretical model in which, under autocratic rule, transparency increases the frequency of protests, and increases the extent to which protest is correlated with incumbent performance. We find empirical support for these claims. Transparency destabilizes autocracies via mass protest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-784
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume109
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 23 2015

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