Why did the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s Armed Forces) allow transition from direct military to civilian rule in 2011? Will North Korea’s regime ever collapse and if so what would change look like? What caused Russia’s de-democratization? What explains the roll-back (democratic backsliding)? How important are economic and non-economic factors in sustaining authoritarian rule? Do authoritarian states promote autocracy? These are some of the questions explored in this course.
With over half of the world’s population living under authoritarian rule and almost half of the countries understanding what authoritarian regimes are, how they function, why they endure and how they collapse are crucial questions to comparative political science. The course offers a comparative outlook to the study of authoritarianism, focusing on the varieties of this form of government, the factors sustaining it in terms of durability, resilience and governance, as well as the causes that might bring its breakdown. Attention will be paid to forms of neo-patrimonial rule and the institutional turn in the study of authoritarianism. Pathways from authoritarianism and the international dimension of authoritarianism will also be discussed. While striving to be global in outlook, empirically the course concentrates on the post-Soviet and Asian varieties of authoritarianism.