Life after Co-optation: Possibility and Change in Authoritarian Regimes


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


Co-optation—the act of bringing potential opponents into a dominant system—is widely theorized to underpin durable authoritarian rule. Yet empirical evidence suggests that co-optation’s effects on opposition vary across cases. This dissertation engages in a historical and interpretive analysis of co-opted parties in Morocco, Egypt, and Indonesia to answer several interlocking questions: Why do different types of parties respond differently to co-optation? How does co-optation affect party behavior, ideology, and strength? What are the key sources of resilience for co-opted parties? When do co-optative processes break down? And how does the discourse surrounding co-optation affect ordinary citizens’ understandings of politics? Rather than focusing on measures of opposition “success” or “failure,” this project recognizes ambiguity and disagreement as the key products of co-optation and foregrounds the organizational and discursive tools that parties employ to manage internal conflict.