Sasha de Vogel

The Dynamics of Everyday Protest in High-Capacity Autocracies

How do high-capacity authoritarian governments respond to protests that do not threaten the regime? Everyday protests policy-specific grievances constitute a large yet overlooked share of protests in authoritarian states, and exhibit fundamentally different dynamics from commonly studied opposition protests. I argue that everyday protest dynamics are determined by the institutional factors that generate different types of underlying policy grievances. Grievances related to new policies, about which the government has restricted to policy exclusion protest campaigns, whereas grievances related tostatic policies, about which the government has lower information, produce policy erosion campaigns. Because campaigns about policy erosion convey new information about issues that will worsen if left unaddressed, concessions can actually redress those concerns. Repression against these campaigns should be lighter, designed to signal the boundaries of acceptable protest behavior. Meanwhile, campaigns about policy exclusion only interfere with policy implementation. The government responds with the promise of concessions and more severe repression, only to renege on promised concessions when mobilization abates. I find support for this theory using original data on everyday protests in Moscow, Russia from 2013-2018; this is the first dataset to collect detailed information on concessions.