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Street-level Repression: Protest, Policing, and Dissent in Uganda


In many countries, police are both guardians of public safety and the primary instruments of state repression. Used to quell dissent, excessive police action can drive further collective action, leading to a repression-dissent nexus. Yet does repression spur dissent for all, or only for those already dissenting? We theorize repression by police causes political backlash, decreasing support for police and increasing political dissent. We argue these effects are conditioned by individuals’ proximity to the repressive act and support for the ruling party. Using a nationally representative survey experiment of 1,920 Ugandans, we find robust evidence for political backlash effects of repression across all demographics, regardless of proximity to the event. By examining the politics of policing, we show excessive police violence triggers political backlash, decreasing general support for the security apparatus and increasing willingness to publicly dissent for some populations.

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Full Citation:

Curtice, Travis B. and Brandon Behlendorf. 2020. "Street-level Repression: Protest, Policing, and Dissent in Uganda." Journal of Conflict Resolution (July). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022002720939304

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