State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace

State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace

Does democracy reduce state repression as human rights activism, funding, and policy suggest? What are the limitations of this argument? Investigating 137 countries from 1976 to 1996, State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace seeks to shed light on these questions. Specifically, it finds that electoral participation and competition generally reduces personal integrity violations like torture and mass killing; other aspects of democracy do not wield consistent influences. This negative influence can be overwhelmed by conflict, however, and thus there are important qualifications for the peace proposition.


"State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace is that rare book that compels the reader to adopt a significantly transformed way to think about democracy’s warts as well as its many virtues. Christian Davenport has done a masterful job of exploring and explaining the conditions under which democratic governments resort to repressive and coercive policies. He has done so in a rigorous setting that contrasts the incentives of democratic and non-democratic leaders and that presents a wholly original and persuasive view that not only shows why democrats are less likely to repress than are other types of leaders, but also explains why, when and how democrats do repress their own citizens. Davenport’s book is a tour d’ force, a must read for anyone who wants to understand the underside of democracy."
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, New York University

"This is a carefully nuanced comparative examination of how democratic institutions do and don't effectively constrain state repression under conditions of domestic and international threat. It is relevant to both new and long-established democracies."
Bruce Russett, Yale University

"While the interstate democratic peace finding is well known and has stood up to the most rigorous empirical scrutiny, the spread of institutional democracy and its effects on state repression have been largely ignored. Many otherwise attentive observers have assumed that democratic institutions provide a robust firebreak on government sponsored violence against dissenting citizens. State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace shows us the glass is but half full. Drawing on, synthesizing, and extending insights from comparative politics and international relations, political institutions, and conflict studies, Davenport provides one of the most important studies of state repression yet written. A must read for those interested in political repression, state sponsored violence, and the future of liberalism."
Allan C. Stam, Dartmouth College

"Davenport's State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace is a masterful, systematic and sobering analysis of how contemporary states--often unsuccessfully--must tread a thin line between protecting and repressing political freedoms."
Michael D. Ward, University of Washington

"Christian Davenport's book provides a valuable and nuanced understanding of how democracy affects domestic repression...His approach is much needed to unpack how, why, and to what extent, and under what conditions do democratic politics repress and if so the types and severity of the repressive acts engaged in."
M. Rodwan Abouharb, Journal of Politics

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