From ‘the effect of repression’ toward ‘the response to repression’

Ali Honari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Scholars have long been interested in explaining the effect of state repression on political participation. Recent reviews of research on state repression highlighted contradictory findings about this effect, yet the core question is still debated: what accounts for the variation in the effects of repression? This article posits that, to make sense of the variation in repression’s effect on political participation, theorization needs to move toward predictions about individuals’ responses to repression. The article, thus, attempts to lay the foundations for such theorization by reviewing the scholarship on the relationship between repression and political participation through the lens of the strategic choices individuals can make. Seeing individuals as having agency and shifting focus to their responses to repression (1) offers a broader picture of the activities available to discontented people under repression and (2) provides a better account of the contentious politics occurring under repression. A number of strategies in response to repression are identified. The notion of ‘choice points’ is applied to formulate hypotheses about why or under what conditions people choose a particular strategy in response to repression. In doing so, this article outlines new avenues for empirical research on repression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-973
Number of pages24
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number6
Early online date24 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Micro-mobilization
  • perceived repression
  • political participation
  • political protest
  • repression
  • response to repression
  • social movements
  • strategy


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