The Ideological Shadow of Authoritarianism

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Dictatorships and authoritarian regimes can last for years or even decades, but when change and transition to democracy comes, it often happens astonishingly quickly.

The effects of dictatorship do not, however, disappear overnight. Authoritarian regimes use propaganda and indoctrination to maintain support and control, and this propaganda can continue to affect the politics of new democracies. Understanding the continuing influence of propaganda is crucial to understanding how countries make the difficult transition to democracy.

Covering both left-wing and right-wing dictatorships, this project will help assess the continuing effects of indoctrination by building a large-scale dataset which includes countries from Southern Europe, Latin America and post-Communist regimes. The data generated by this project will be open-access, providing a valuable resource for others who study authoritarianism, democratisation and ideology.

This dataset will help us to understand how the ideology of a regime continues to effect the politics and ideology of the country. Do the after-effects of a regime’s propaganda lead to a lingering affection for an ideology? Or does association with a dictator tarnish an ideology and lead to its rejection by the population?

Often, the answers to these questions are linked to the ways in which indoctrination took place. By incorporating indicators of this – such as the extent of media censorship, the degree of ideological clarity from the ruling elite, and whether propaganda was institutionalised (such as through a ministry of propaganda), this data will allow researchers to study the ways in which different types of indoctrination lead to different reactions to that ideology in later years.

Understanding this is critical if we want to understand how countries undertake the transition to democracy, and the stresses and pressures which new democracies can face. By providing new data and analysis, this project will help to further our knowledge of the ideological shadow of authoritarianism.


Ksenia Northmore-Ball


John Fell Fund


John Fell Fund

Project Start / End

Mar 2017 - Sep 2017

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