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Abstract

Drawing on theories of regime control and survival, on the one hand, and theories of social movements and everyday resistance, on the other, this dissertation elaborates mechanisms of protest dynamics in authoritarian settings. It focuses particularly on forms of protest short of collective action that present the core of protest in authoritarian regimes but tend to be largely overlooked due to their limited visibility and ambiguous political nature. Conceptualizing authoritarianism as a set of state-society relations, rather than a specific institutional arrangement, this study stresses the degree of political openness, regime legitimacy, and state penetration of the society as crucial for understanding protest and regime vulnerability to such challenges. Presenting protest and control as deeply intertwined and partly co-constitutive, rather than simply opposed to each other, it traces their interaction and protest development across various private, institutional, and public spaces in the last ten years of authoritarian rule in Tunisia (2000-2010) and Czechoslovakia (1980-1989). Drawing on archival research and over 100 interviews, it explores the subversive potential of micro-practices of resistance on authoritarian durability from the point of view of both the regime and the society. As such, it develops a broad phenomenology of protest in non-democratic settings and contributes to a more encompassing understanding of political resistance to authoritarian regimes across different societal and historical contexts.

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