Political Control and Repression

Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 11:00am to 12:00pm


In 2021, the Freedom House reported a 16-consecutive-year decline in global freedom and estimated that 40 percent of the global population live in “Not Free” countries. At the same time, protests in China, Russia, and Iran are among the most hotly-debated issues in world politics. The expansion of non-democratic rule and the global eruption of anti-authoritarian popular movements raise some important questions: How do authoritarian leaders control their citizens to ensure the regime’s survival? How are similar tools used in democracies on social movements? Does ever-advancing digital technology facilitate or dampen authoritarian repression? What are the consequences of repression on society? When are pro-democracy movements most likely to succeed?

This four-part IAP lecture series offers some answers to these questions by drawing on seminal works and cutting-edge research in comparative politics. Each lecture will leave time for Q&A.

No prerequisites, no homework, not for credit. 

Lecture 1 (1/10) Tactics of political control: repression, re-distribution, indoctrination, and infiltration. Country cases: Syria, China, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Kenya.

Lecture 2 (1/17) Digital authoritarianism, technology’s influence on protest and repression, the Arab Spring. Country cases: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Iran, China, Russia.

Lecture 3 (1/24) Influence of repression on society. Country cases: Ukraine, Poland, China, United States, Iraq.

Lecture 4 (1/31) What explains authoritarian durability in some countries? Why do some protests lead to democratization? Country cases: Egypt, Tunisia, China, Russia.

Event Type


Events By Audience

MIT Community, Students

Events By School

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)

Department of Political Science
Contact Email


Add to my calendar

Recent Activity