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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Emergence and Consolidation of Opposition to Authoritarian Rule
by Amat Matas, Consuelo, Ph.D., Yale University, 2018, 332; 13851829
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation makes three arguments about the relationship between repression and mobilization in authoritarian regimes. First, repression is very unlikely to make all mobilization disappear completely, even public opposition. But systematic violent repression against specific targets forces them underground, and some actors are more capable than others of surviving those circumstances. A compartmentalized organizational structure and underground organizing skills make survival more likely when repression is most extreme. Second, public and nonviolent opposition is possible even against the most repressive regimes, as long as dissidents can rely on local protector institutions to reduce the cost of high-risk activism. Protector institutions are agents that the regime relies on for legitimacy and are willing to lend some safeguards to the opposition. Third, at the very local level and with narrow objectives, civil society can not only survive but also thrive under military dictatorships. These small and atomized efforts can, when there is a considerable reduction in state violence, transform into potent challenges against the state in the form of mass protests after a process of alliance formation.

The dissertation develops and examines these arguments at the subnational level in the case of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile from 1973 to 1990. It presents data from four original datasets based on tens of thousands of pages of archives from Chile and the United States, more than 50 interviews with the protagonists of the conflict conducted during eight months of fieldwork in Chile, and secondary literature. The datasets contribute to our understanding of the 18-year period of Pinochet's rule at different levels of analysis. It triangulates data from different sources and overcomes important biases in the literature such as the focus on large movements, the assumption that the Catholic Church is a unitary actor, and the measurement of repression in a limited way.

Theoretically, the dissertation helps disentangle the punishment puzzle by lowering the level of aggregation with which it theorizes the dynamic relationship between repression and mobilization. The dissertation also contributes to scholarly understanding of the onset of nonviolent movements and the backfiring effect of state violence by explaining the conditions under which mobilization occurs following extreme repression. Finally, the dissertation contributes to the mobilization literature by theorizing on the survival and emergence of various types of organizing, as well as its antecedents, ranging from underground movements, alined groups, mixed-strategy campaigns, public and small-scale protests, and public large-scale mobilization.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wood, Elisabeth Jean
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 80/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American Studies
Keywords: Authoritarian Regimes, Dictatorship, Chile, Pinochet, High-Risk Collective Action, Mobilization, Repression, State Violence, Social Movements
Publication Number: 13851829
ISBN: 978-0-438-98316-8
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