A Theory of Demographically Targeted Repression

Arturas Rozenas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    People from specific ethnic, religious, or other externally identifiable groups are often subjected to harsher repression than others. This phenomenon of demographically targeted repression is often viewed as a result of xenophobia. I provide a rationalist explanation of demographic targeting to understand why this form of repression is employed even without xenophobic motives. Building on the empirical literature, I model an environment where a threat of repression may motivate people to oppose the regime defensively. I show that, in such conditions, the regime may use demographic targeting to undermine cross-group collective action. The model explains when demographic targeting is used and how it shapes the behavior and identity of citizens. I use the model to make sense of certain aspects of repression policy in China.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1254-1278
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number7-8
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


    • autocracy
    • collective action
    • discrimination
    • opposition
    • repression

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Business, Management and Accounting
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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