Authoritarian Impediments to Civil Society in Contemporary Myanmar: Findings from the Myanmar Civil Society Survey 2019 (with Arkar Soe), under review
Myanmar has seen an unprecedented expansion of civil society following its opening-up in 2011. However, on a regular basis, civil society actors still face undue obstacles to their work. Whereas egregious instances of, what we collectively call ‘authoritarian impediments,’ have been documented on a case-by-case basis, comparative knowledge about the day-to-day impediments to free civil society has yet been missing. The Myanmar Civil Society Survey (MCSS) compiles first-hand data about experiences of repression and other unrequited obstacles from civil society organisations active in the country. This paper introduces the inaugural survey and key findings. The data reveals that authoritarian impediments have remained widespread, seriously undermining the function of civil society. Nonetheless, authoritarian impediments seem frequently unintentional and originating from incompetence, or a lack of understanding, rather than being repressive-by-intent. Moreover, many civil society organisations reported improvements, which puts our interpretation into context.
Existing scholarship lacks important knowledge about how protest and coercion change during regime change. This study provides new evidence by studying legal reforms as well as patterns of protest and repression during the first 46 months of Myanmar’s regime change. By examining law amendments and analyzing protest data compiled via a protest event analysis from local news resources, it can be shown that the de jure exercisability and de facto exercise of protest have changed considerably over time. Informal repression of protest, such as by arbitrary violence, have gradually made way for methods that are formally in accordance with the rule of law but remained inconsistent with human rights standards. Additionally, repression has become more selective, demonstrating a continuous high state control over civil society. I suggest that the observed changes may be general features of elite-controlled transitions to competitive authoritarianism, a hypothesis that merits future cross-national research.
Conceptualizing Collective Memory in Historical Legacy Arguments, under review
Historical legacies have received growing attention in recent years, but the mechanisms by which legacies come into existence have remained surprisingly undertheorized. To help mitigate the lack of specificity and clarity, and to supplement the toolkit of critical juncture and legacy scholarship, this essay proposes ‘collective memory’ as an intermediate variable that provides various possible reproduction mechanisms. I argue that collective memory can translate the social memory of a past critical juncture into a politically salient legacy. In the essay, I conceptualize ‘collective memory legacy arguments’ and identify such arguments in existing legacy work. The structure of collective memory legacy arguments laid out in this essay will be particularly useful for scholars trying to explain attitudinal and behavioral legacies.
Intangible Assets of Cyberspace: The Determinants of Internet Domain Name Sales Prices, under review
This work investigates the determinants of domain name sales prices by proposing and empirically testing a novel appraisal model, which conceptually distinguishes market value from sales price. The model is tested using original sales data from more than 32,277 domain name transactions that were concluded in 2017, including sales from a variety of non-public sources. A hierarchical ordinary least square regression model is specified to test a large number of hypotheses derived from the model. As this study shows, many commonsense explanations for what factors drive domain prices are not supported by data. Overall, the findings suggest that the value of a domain name is most dependent on the economic purpose it can serve, while the price is most associated with the type of buyer. It is argued that the results are more externally valid than previous accounts.