Ideology and Authoritarian Persistence: Shaping the Public Sphere in North Korea and Burma

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation examines how circumscription and manipulation of the public sphere contributes to the persistence of authoritarian regimes. It argues that while ruling ideologies of such regimes may differ in content, they rely on similar sets of underlying mechanisms designed to impact interactions in the public sphere. It analyzes how the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) under Kim Jong Il and Burma/Myanmar under successive military juntas have attempted to legitimate themselves as military regimes in the post-Cold War era. The dissertation illustrates how the ideologies of the DPRK and the Burmese junta worked to forestall critiques about authoritarian rule — even if many citizens were dissatisfied with the state’s authoritarian practices — by limiting and manipulating discussion in the political public sphere. Data is drawn from domestically-oriented media as well as 75 semi-structured interviews with North Koreans and Burmese conducted in 2011 and 2012. While the study empirically focuses on the DPRK and Myanmar, in broader comparative and analytical chapters it also points to the generalizability of the argument, with implications for theories of ideology, the study of authoritarianism, and debates about how closed societies change.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07082013-204126

Author Alexander Dukalskis
Advisor A. James McAdams
Contributor Peter Wallensteen, Committee Member
Contributor Ernesto Verdeja, Committee Member
Contributor A. James McAdams, Committee Chair
Contributor Victoria Tin-bor Hui, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Peace Studies
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Banner Code

Defense Date
  • 2013-06-14

Submission Date 2013-07-08
  • United States of America

  • Myanmar

  • North Korea

  • Authoritarianism

  • Ideology

  • Burma

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

  • A book based on this text, The Authoritarian Public Sphere: Legitimation and Autocratic Power in North Korea, Burma, and China 1st Edition, has been published by Routledge; 1 edition (August 16, 2018). ISBN-10: 9781138350670

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