Political repression: Iron fists, velvet gloves, and diffuse control

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This article reviews research on political repression by social movement scholars. Four topics are discussed: (a) debates over the conceptualization of repression, the breadth of the concept, whether distinctions within the concept are productive and/or forms of repression are directly comparable, and the relationship between repression and political opportunities; (b) recent research on different types of repression, particularly protest policing; (c) an evaluation of research on different explanations of repression; and (d) an evaluation of research on the consequences of repression. Attention is also paid to areas where future research effort might be most productively spent, including identifying substantial gaps where more research is needed, where important debates exist that need research to push toward their resolution, where robust results exist but could be furthered by refinements, and where a more inclusive conceptualization of repression may link the study of repression to other significant literatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-284
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - Aug 11 2011


  • Channeling
  • Collective action
  • Genocide
  • Human rights
  • Mass incarceration
  • Political violence
  • Protest control
  • Social control
  • Social movements
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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