Non-violent resistance movements in the light of digital repression

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för freds- och konfliktforskning

Abstract: Over the past decade, the success rate of non-violent resistance movements has decreased. With the development of information and communication technology (ICT), governments have taken repression into the digital realm to tamper with protest movements. The effects of repression on protest mobilization have been rather inconclusive; even less is known about the effects of digital repression. By using the political jiu-jitsu, backfire and moral jiu-jitsu theory as well as the theory on emotion and protest participation in hard autocracy, this thesis showcases how the moral shock and indignation helps to overcome fear caused by both traditional and digital repression, thus helping to explain the relationship between repression and mobilization. This theoretical framework is applied to the case of Belarusian post-election protests in 2010 and 2020. Although traditional repression was present in both time frames, there is a significant variation in the government’s digital repression resolve. The analysis shows that mobilization was primarily driven by traditional repression – police brutality and violence. However, in 2020 people were also outraged by censorship and Internet shutdowns that left them in an information vacuum which was deemed completely undeserved. The outrage about digital repression was facilitated by the opposition activities that acted against digital repression.

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