The Institutional Foundation of Countermobilization: Elites and Pro-Regime Grassroots Organizations in Post-Handover Hong Kong
Countermobilization has been a common strategy for autocrats to counteract the threat of opposition. Although the use of countermobilization has drawn scholarly attention, research on the mechanisms that enable countermobilization remains limited. This article underscores the role of political institutions in allowing autocrats to carry out countermobilization through incentivizing elites to serve as a bridge between the state and the masses. Focusing on the case of Hong Kong, where pro-government countermobilization is rising along with pro-democracy challenges against the hybrid regime, the article argues that countermobilization is enabled because societal elites are incentivized through political institutions to organize the masses and develop mobilization capacity through grassroots organizations. Using original elite biographical data and organizational data, the article shows that elites with more ties with grassroots organizations are more likely to remain in office in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The findings offer an institutionalist explanation of how authoritarian rulers enact countermobilization by leveraging elite intermediaries and their grassroots networks. In this light, political institutions can serve as a conduit for the state to extend social control.
1 Jan 2021 – 31 Dec 2021
Journal title, volume/issue number, page range
Government and Opposition, 2021, 1–22
International Relations and Politics