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The Authoritarian Public Sphere: Legitimation and Autocratic Power in North Korea, Burma, and China (Abstract & Introduction)
Dukalskis, Alexander
Autocracies craft and disseminate reasons, stories, and explanations for why they are entitled to rule. To shield those justifications from criticism, authoritarian regimes also censor information that they find threatening. While committed opponents of the government may be violently repressed, this book is about how the authoritarian state keeps the majority of its people quiescent by manipulating the ways in which they talk and think about politics. It argues that the legitimating messages of an authoritarian regime situated within a circumscribed public sphere limit political discussion, channel political imagination, and narrow public discourse to inhibit the formation of political alternatives. An authoritarian public sphere therefore augments the power of autocratic regimes. Yet no regime, regardless of its power, can completely stifle every criticism that citizens have and therefore relatively autonomous spaces furnish potential opportunities for people to transform private complaints into collective challenges to the regime's ruling ideology. This book evaluates these arguments in contemporary North Korea, Burma (also called Myanmar), and China. It explains how the authoritarian public sphere shapes political discourse in each context and examines three domains for potential subversion of autocratic ideologies: the shadow markets of North Korea, networks of independent journalists in Burma/Myanmar, and the online sphere in China. In addition to making a theoretical contribution to the study of authoritarianism, this book draws upon unique empirical data. From 2011 to 2016 the author conducted fieldwork in the region, including semi-structured interviews with North Korean defectors in South Korea, Burmese exiles in Thailand, and Burmese in Myanmar who stayed in the country during the military government, as well as an academic trip to North Korea and several visits to China. When analyzed alongside state-produced media, speeches, and legislation, interview evidence allows for a rich understanding of how ideologies influence everyday discussions about politics in the authoritarian public sphere.
Keyword(s): Autocratic power; Authoritarian regimes; Censorship; Criticism; North Korea; Burma (Myanmar); China; Autocratic ideologies; Authoritarian public sphere
Publication Date:
Type: Book
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: University College Dublin
Publisher(s): Routledge
First Indexed: 2019-05-11 06:33:16 Last Updated: 2019-05-11 06:33:16