Political Control

Mai Hassan, Daniel Mattingly, Elizabeth R. Nugent

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Political leaders use different tactics to ensure widespread compliance with state policies and to minimize resistance. Scholarship tends to treat different tactics individually, suggesting fundamental dissimilarities in underpinning logic and goals. We introduce political control as a concept that unifies these different tactics within a single framework and demonstrate the analytical utility of considering seemingly disparate strategies in conversation rather than in isolation. We synthesize a growing recent literature on political control, including innovative approaches to repression as well as studies of indoctrination, distribution, and infiltration. We argue that tactics of political control can be understood to vary along two primary dimensions: The level of violence and the materiality of state actions. We highlight recent inquiry into the downstream effects of political control. We conclude with a call for more research on political control that considers combinations of different tactics, across regime types, in a world where tolerance of violent repression is diminishing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-174
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • coercive distribution
  • indoctrination
  • infiltration
  • political control
  • repression


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