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Authoritarianism: A Very Short Introduction [#752]
Authoritarianism: A Very Short Introduction [#752]
  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of authoritarian regimes, including military, single-party, and personalist regimes
  • Explores dimensions of authoritarianism with examples drawn from countries as varied as Argentina, Chile, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa
  • Offers an overview of authoritarianism that is not always accessible to the broader reading public

Authoritarianism is one of the buzzwords of our age. But what is it exactly? This Very Short Introduction provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of authoritarian regimes, including military, single-party, and personalist regimes. It examines how understandings of authoritarianism have evolved over time, as well as the curious fact that many authoritarian regimes today hold elections. James Loxton explains the "life cycle" of authoritarian regimes: from democratic breakdown, to challenges that authoritarian regimes face, and how changes in the international environment and the decisions of the democratic opposition can encourage authoritarian regimes to give up power. The author also asks why some authoritarian regimes are more durable than others, and what kinds of legacies authoritarian regimes may leave behind after a transition to democracy.
This Very Short Introduction shows how factors such as natural resource wealth, origins in violent revolution, and cross-border collaboration can contribute to authoritarian durability. It ends by looking at the disturbing fact that voters in many new democracies use their newfound rights to send former authoritarian officials back to office.


1: What is Authoritarianism?
2: Varieties of Authoritarianism
3: The Birth of Authoritarian Regimes
4: The Life of Authoritarian Regimes
5: The Death of Authoritarian Regimes
6: The Puzzle of Authoritarian Durability
7: Legacies of Authoritarianism

Further Reading

About the author: 

James Loxton is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the University of Sydney. He is the award-winning author of Conservative Party-Building in Latin America: Authoritarian Inheritance and Counterrevolutionary Struggle (2021) and co-editor of Life after Dictatorship: Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide (2018). He holds a PhD in Government from Harvard University.

"Authoritarianism not only endures but is thriving in the twenty-first century. As dictatorships continue to shape politics across much of the globe, it has become clear that we need to better understand what engenders and sustains them. Authoritarianism: A Very Short Introduction is the place to start. For anyone teaching or learning about the causes, durability, and legacies of authoritarian rule, Loxton's insightful and masterfully-written book should be the first off the shelf." - Steven Levitsky, David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, Harvard University

"A sharp, accessible introduction to a critical political phenomenon. This indispensable and incisive book shows how to recognize authoritarian regimes, how they are born, how they survive, how they die—and how their legacies live on." - Anna Grzymala-Busse, Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies, Stanford University

"Given that the majority of human beings live in nondemocratic regimes, any understanding of contemporary politics must begin with authoritarianism. This perceptive, engaging book helps readers understand why both political elites and ordinary citizens routinely resort to autocratic solutions. Loxton brings authoritarian regimes to life in vivid detail." - Timothy J. Power, Head of Social Sciences Division, Oxford University

"Authoritarianism in the 21st century is indeed alive and well, and this introduction lucidly explains what it is, how it functions, and why it endures. Loxton's cogent analysis also illuminates the implications of authoritarian rule for democratic constitutions and political parties, demonstrating the ways in which authoritarianism's influence endures in institutional and behavioral forms." - Rachel Beatty Riedl, Director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell University

Product details

ISBN : 9780192872692

James Loxton
128 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2024
Very Short Introductions
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Authoritarianism: A Very Short Introduction [#752]

Authoritarianism: A Very Short Introduction [#752]

Authoritarianism: A Very Short Introduction [#752]