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Title: Varieties of Middle Class Growth and Democratic Preference Formation
Authors: Rosenfeld, Bryn
Advisors: Beissinger, Mark R
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: democratization
middle class
political behavior
state-led development
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Under what conditions does growth of the middle class increase popular pressure on regimes to democratize? Though scholars have often viewed the middle class as an agent of economic growth and democratization, little systematic research examines middle class attitudes toward democracy in contemporary autocratic regimes. This dissertation studies how autocracies secure support from growing middle classes, using state patronage to shape political preferences and divide potential democratic coalitions. Drawing lessons from post-communist countries, I focus on the micro-level mechanisms that affect bottom-up demand for democracy and show why middle class growth is frequently not accompanied by political liberalization. Under autocracy, the state often provides key avenues of mobility into the middle class. I argue that such state-led growth weakens middle class support for democratization. I connect the political loyalty of the middle classes to the power of authoritarian states to bestow or withhold benefits, in particular through public sector employment, and to individuals' alternatives to state selective incentives. I test this argument using quantitative analysis of surveys and qualitative evidence from extended fieldwork in the region. In an analysis of cross-national survey data from 27 post-communist countries, I show that, under autocracy, state careers weaken support for democracy, especially among the middle class. Through a study of mobilized contention in Russia, using surveys of protesters and a novel case-control design, I demonstrate the theory's applicability to consequential collective action. Then with panel data, I investigate the relationship between social mobility, democratic preferences, and party support in Ukraine, during a pivotal period spanning the Orange Revolution. Finally, bringing together survey data, interviews, archival material, and thick description, I examine the vocabulary and practice of state-led middle class expansion in Kazakhstan. The dissertation's distinctive contribution is to show concretely, at the individual level and for a broad set of cases across different institutional contexts, how state-led development creates middle classes that are beholden to autocratic regimes. The findings contribute to debates about the role of class actors in democratic transition, participation in contentious politics, and the rise of state capitalism. They also provide new insights into the puzzle of development without democratization.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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