The Autocratic Middle Class studies the post-communist middle classes – not as a force for democracy, but as a source of support for autocracy and authoritarian resilience. It helps to explain why authoritarianism deepened across the ex-Soviet region over a period when the middle class was rapidly expanding; why anti-Putin protests in Russia have thus far failed to achieve a critical mass; and why it has been so difficult to consolidate democracy in Ukraine. Drawing on attitudinal surveys, unique data on protest participation, and extensive fieldwork in the former Soviet Union, this book shows that state dependence weakens the middle classes’ incentives to prefer and pursue democracy and sheds light on why development doesn’t necessarily lead to democratization.
About the Speaker:
BrynRosenfeld is Assistant Professor of Government at Cornell University. Her research interests include political behavior, development and democratization, protest, post-communist politics, and survey methodology. Her new book, The Autocratic Middle Class examines how middle-class economic dependence on the state impedes democratization and contributes to authoritarian resilience. She is the recipient of a Juan Linz Best Dissertation Prize and a Best Article Award honorable mention, both by the American Political Science Association’s Democracy & Autocracy Section. Her work appears in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and Sociological Methods & Research. She holds a PhD from Princeton.