Repression and Control in Dictatorships
Course Number: 84-627
How do dictatorships exert physical and social control over their populations through state coercion? What tools and institutions do they use, and what makes dictatorships' use of coercion distinct from that of democracies? Why is so much of the population complicit in the human rights abuses which result from these control efforts? This course, drawing on research across social science and history, answers these questions by analyzing the institutions, processes, and consequences of governments' mechanisms of physical and social control. Among other topics, we will examine the origins of state coercion, the structure and organization of state coercion, and the cooperation of civilians and other social actors with coercion. Beyond physical-legal coercion, we will evaluate 'softer' forms of social control such as propaganda, censorship social pressure, and twenty-first-century digital strategies of information manipulation. We will also consider the imprint of physical and social control on the population's beliefs and behavior, both during the time they are subjected to coercion and the period following its end. Students will engage with these questions through (1) in-depth class discussions based on insights from historical and present-day dictatorships and (2) conducting original research and analysis of evidence.
Academic Year: 2022-2023