1st year PhD Presentations: CIPE Track
When Do Autocrats Use Digital Technologies for Covert Repression? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Politico-Economic Conditions
ABSTRACT | As we dive deeper into the era of the Digital Revolution, the proliferation of digital technologies becomes increasingly important for understanding the repression strategies of modern autocrats. Covert repression strategies, such as selective online censorship, Internet shutdowns, or targeted surveillance, have become increasingly popular because of their low politico-economic costs for non-democratic regimes if compared to overt, violent repression.
Digital technologies can play an important role in strengthening the effects of covert repression, providing the necessary tools and infrastructure for dictators. But do all digitally advanced autocracies also demonstrate a high level of covert repression? Recent studies suggest that this picture is more nuanced.
While we know a lot about the process and effects of covert repression, not so much is known about the conditions enabling it. This presentation offers insight into this question through the application of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to determine the conditions which are necessary and/or sufficient for high levels of covert repression in 83 non-democratic regimes.
The findings demonstrate that digital uptake can be sufficient for covert repression only in conjunction with either autocratic linkages or with a pre-established history of repression. Moreover, there can be other sufficient conditions that do not involve digital technologies at all. Apart from contributing to understanding the variation in repression strategies, the results provide theoretical and empirical grounds for more evidence-guided comparative case studies and more fine-grained country-level qualitative research on covert repression.
Regulating platform economy through ownership – an analysis of state and worker co-operative ownership in the platform economy
ABSTRACT | The digitalization of labour raises regulatory concerns, and governments have to do a lot of catching up to identify and implement the ideal regulatory mechanism. Platform corporations like Uber raise regulatory concerns in several areas of regulation like competition, labour and social policy. Increased precarity in working conditions gave rise to many worker protests in the platform economy, despite the absence of organized trade unions in the sector. Home to many workers in the gig sector, India also saw its share of worker protests demanding better wages and working conditions. Worker movements also demanded better legislation to ensure social protection and legislation to ensure the same. In response to these demands, different states saw the emergence of digital platforms owned by state governments and worker co-operatives. This project will explore the reasons behind the emergence of the various forms of ownership. The project will analyze the political economy factors leading to these ownership forms' emergence in these states. It will also study the difference in responses across states and explore the institutional factors and actors behind this varied response.
Thomas Pierre Laffitte
The Decay of the European Consolidation Regime: Gradual Institutional Change and the Path Towards Eurobonds
ABSTRACT | During the economic crisis triggered by the covid-19 pandemic, EU policymakers quickly and surprisingly agreed to launch the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery plan, an exceptional €750 billion recovery plan. The plan is unprecedented not only because of its size – it is the largest ever decided at the EU level – but mainly because of how it is going to be financed: EU member states agreed to issue an unprecedented amount of common European debt, or so-called “Eurobonds”. Existing literature has so far extensively focused on NGEU as an exceptional crisis measure explained by the critical juncture argument. However, I argue that to fully understand how Eurobonds came about, we need to put in perspective the covid crisis with the previous decade and especially, the gradual institutional change entailed since the Eurozone crisis. A historical institutional perspective will help enlighten how a decade of institutional change, which combined both layering and exhaustion, created the critical components allowing for this specific type of institutional reform. This decade of institutional change can be seen as the slow decay of the “European consolidation regime” (Streeck, 2015) and the progressive rise of what could be called the “debt-union”.