New challenges to authoritarian state stability: the proliferation of modern information communications technology
Bylsma, Colin D.
Colby, Samuel T.
Warren, T. Camber
Fox, William P.
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Numerous political commentators have proclaimed the rapid proliferation of information and communications technology (ICT) as the harbinger of instability to undemocratic governments. But does the spread of ICT necessarily destabilize authoritarian regimes, and does it impact different types of autocracies to the same degree? To determine the effect of ICT on governments, this study adopts a quantitative approach. The relationship between state stability and ICT penetration in countries from 1990 to 2013 is examined using logistic regression techniques. The results of the analysis indicate a statistically significant negative relationship between the onset of violence and ICT presence. Authoritarian regimes, specifically those with institutionalized succession regimes, such as monarchies and one-party states, appear to experience less violence as ICT levels increase, whereas stability changes only marginally in democratic countries. Governments and individuals may utilize ICT in disparate manners in pursuit of opposing objectives, but the spread of ICT to authoritarian regimes seems to favor existing institutions rather than the populace. To better understand the relationship between the stability of authoritarian regimes and ICT penetration, it is recommended that future research blend qualitative analysis with an examination of more specific elements of ICT.
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