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Regular version of the site

Comparative authoritarianism

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
3 year, 3 module


Gilev, Aleksey

Course Syllabus


Most of the political theories are focused on democracies, however big share of countries and behavior of politicians and people within these countries could not be explained by the means of theories presuming democratic nature of politics. The growing amount of literature is dealing with the mentioned blind spot. Today we know more and more about autocratic politics and different types of autocracies, so we may understand autocracies not just as deviation from democracy but as having their own internal logic.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The aim of the course is to study what are the main conclusions made by comparative political science on the logic of autocratic rule. We work both with main theories describing politics in autocracies and with certain cases. The latter part is covered by seminars.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Able to think critically and interpret the experience (personal and of other persons), relate to professional and social activities
  • knows main typologies of authoritarian regimes and a logic behind these typologies
  • Able to do research, including the problem analysis, setting goals and objectives, defining the research subject, selecting research methods including its quality control
  • knows the theories on elite management in autocracies
  • Able to identify scientific subject
  • knows the dilemma between information and control
  • knows the dilemma between repression and co-optation
  • Student is capable of executing applied analysis of the political phenomena and political processes by using political science methods and in support of practical decision making process
  • knows the basics of political economy of autocracies
  • understands the functions of election in autocracies
  • knows the theories about sources of regime stability
  • knows the theories of democratic transition and their critics
  • Student is capable of executing applied analysis of the political phenomena and political processes by using political science methods and in support of practical decision making process.
  • knows the role of state institutions in autocracies
  • Knows the theories about quality of governance in authoritarian countries
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Varieties of autocracy
    Typologies of authoritarian regimes and their critics
  • Leadership and elite management in autocracies, the role of institutions
  • Dictator’s dilemma
  • Contentious politics under autocracies: repression vs co-optation
  • Sources of autocratic stability: political economy
  • The role of elections under autocracies
  • Autocratic resilience: popular and intraelite threats to regime stability
  • State building and governance under autocracy
  • State institutions under autocracies
  • Autocratic resilience and democratic transition
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In-Class Participation
  • non-blocking Project Work
  • non-blocking Response paper
  • non-blocking Test
    Тест прошел в 3 модуле.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.2 * In-Class Participation + 0.3 * Project Work + 0.2 * Response paper + 0.3 * Test


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Joseph Wright. (2008). Do Authoritarian Institutions Constrain? How Legislatures Affect Economic Growth and Investment. American Journal of Political Science, (2), 322. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00315.x
  • Levitsky, S., & Way, L. (2010). Competitive Authoritarianism : Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=331320
  • Malesky, E., & Schuler, P. (2010). Nodding or Needling: Analyzing Delegate Responsiveness in an Authoritarian Parliament. American Political Science Review, (03), 482. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v104y2010i03p482.502.00
  • Svolik, M. W. (2012). The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=473250

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Geddes, B. (1999). What Do We Know about Democratization After Twenty Years? Annual Review of Political Science, 2(1), 115. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.2.1.115