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Decentralization, Repression, and Gambling for Unity

Gibilisco, Michael (2021) Decentralization, Repression, and Gambling for Unity. Journal of Politics, 83 (4). pp. 1353-1368. ISSN 0022-3816. doi:10.1086/711626.

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I study a dynamic model of center-periphery relations that endogenizes the periphery’s grievance via the legacy of repression. The center’s key trade-off is that repression prevents the periphery from mobilizing today but increases grievances and thus the group’s ability to mobilize tomorrow, whereas tolerating mobilization diminishes grievances. The model’s predictions are path dependent, and a tipping point emerges among grievances. Below, the center tolerates mobilization, dissipating grievances. Above, the center preempts mobilization with perpetual repression or by granting independence, either intensifying grievances or breaking up the country, respectively. Only moderately aggrieved minorities have the opportunity and desire for mobilization. The model reconciles competing accounts of decentralization and secessionist mobilization, as the two have a nonmonotonic relationship; moderate decentralization levels are particularly susceptible to mobilization. Even decentralization optimally chosen by the center can be followed by outbursts of rebellion. The evolution of Basque secessionism helps to illustrate the model’s dynamics.

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URLURL TypeDescription ItemWorking Paper
Gibilisco, Michael0000-0002-6484-1314
Additional Information:© 2021 Southern Political Science Association. Published online July 22, 2021. Previous versions of this article circulated under the title “Decentralization and the Gamble for Unity.” Thanks to Avi Acharya, Rob Carroll, Casey Crisman-Cox, John Duggan, Tiberiu Dragu, Jon Eguia, Michael Hechter, Gretchen Helmke, Alex Hirsch, Brenton Kenkel, Jack Paine, Bob Powell, Carlo Prato, Mattan Sharkansky, Scott Tyson, and Yannis Vassiliadis for comments and suggestions. This article also benefited from audiences at Columbia University, the Harris School of Public Policy, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Rochester, the Formal Theory and Comparative Politics Conference, and the annual meetings of American Political Science Association and Midwest Political Science Association. In particular, I am indebted to Tasos Kalandrakis for invaluable discussions and support throughout this project. All errors are, naturally, my own.
Subject Keywords:grievances; decentralization; repression; secessionism; game theory
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210821-144019310
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Official Citation:Decentralization, Repression, and Gambling for Unity. Michael Gibilisco. The Journal of Politics 2021 83:4, 1353-1368; DOI: 10.1086/711626
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110351
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:21 Aug 2021 16:42
Last Modified:07 Oct 2021 21:55

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