1st Edition

Authoritarian Gravity Centers A Cross-Regional Study of Authoritarian Promotion and Diffusion

Edited By Marianne Kneuer, Thomas Demmelhuber Copyright 2020
    316 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    316 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Autocracies not only resist the global spread of democracy but are sources of autocratic influence and pressure. This book presents a conceptual model to understand, assess, and explain the promotion and diffusion of authoritarian elements.

    Employing a cross-regional approach, leading experts empirically test the concept of authoritarian gravity centers (AGCs), defined as "regimes that constitute a force of attraction and contagion for countries in geopolitical proximity." With an analysis extending across Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Asia, these AGCs are shown to be effective as active promoters (push) or as neutral sources of attraction (pull). The authors contend that the influence of exogenous factors, along with international and regional contexts for the transformation of regime types, is vital to understanding and analyzing the transmission of autocratic institutional settings, ideas, norms, procedures, and practices, thus explaining the regional clustering of autocracies. It is the regional context in which external actors can influence authoritarian processes most effectively.

    Authoritarian Gravity Centers is a vibrant and comprehensive contribution to the growing field of autocratization, which will be of great interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students of comparative area studies, illiberalism, international politics, and studies of democracy.

    Part I: Concept

    1. Autocratization and its Pull and Push Factors – A Challenge for Comparative Research

    Marianne Kneuer and Thomas Demmelhuber

    2. Conceptualizing Authoritarian Gravity Centers: Sources and Addressees, Mechanisms and Motives of Authoritarian Pressure and Attraction

    Marianne Kneuer and Thomas Demmelhuber

    PartII: Empirical Studies on Authoritarian Gravity Centers

    3. Kingdom of Gravity: Autocratic Promotion and Diffusion in Saudi Arabia

    Tobias Zumbrägel

    4. Democratic Erosion and Autocratization in Latin America: The Role of Venezuela as an Authoritarian Gravity Center

    Marianne Kneuer

    5. Kazakhstan: A Possible Future Authoritarian Gravity Centre?

    Adele del Sordi and Alexander Libman

    Part III: The International Dimension of Authoritarianism Revisited

    6. Russia’s Effects on a Consolidated Democracy: The Erosion of Democracy in Hungary and the Putin Model

    Thomas Ambrosio

    7. Iran and its Neighbors: Military Assistance as Support for Authoritarianism

    Rachel Vanderhill

    8. Networking with Chinese Characteristics: China’s Party-to-Party Relations in Asia

    Julia Bader and Christine Hackenesch

    9. Spreading Cyber-Autocracy? The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Diffusion of Norms of “Internet Sovereignty”

    Sebastian Harnisch

    Part IV: Authoritarian Gravity Centers in Cross-Regional Comparison

    10. Authoritarian Gravity Centres in Cross-Regional Comparison: Future Studies and the International Dimensions of Authoritarianism

    Thomas Demmelhuber, Marianne Kneuer, and Tobias Zumbrägel


    Marianne Kneuer is Professor for Political Science, Director of the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Hildesheim, Germany and current President of International Political Science Association (IPSA). Her research interests include studying comparative regime studies, quality of democracy, and democratization, especially the international dimension of democratization and of autocratization.

    Thomas Demmelhuber is Professor of Middle East Politics and Society at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Demmelhuber’s research focuses on state, power, and politics in the Middle East from a comparative perspective, including that of international actors such as the European Union.


    "What accounts for the recent spread of autocracy in the world? This important book develops a systematic conceptualization of the 'attraction' exerted by powerful authoritarian regimes and demonstrates its analytical usefulness through well-chosen and thoroughly researched case studies. An interesting guide to understanding democracy's current predicament!"

    Kurt Weyland, Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin

    "Based on painstaking research in different regions of the world, this thought-provoking set of studies provides new explanations for the regional clustering of autocracies."

    Marlies Glassius, Professor of International Relations, University of Amsterdam