Book presentation by Henry Thomson: "Food and Power: Agricultural Policy and Authoritarian Regime Durability"

Event Type
Book Presentation

Bonn, 17.11.2016


German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Henry Thomson is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and will take up an Assistant Professorship at the State University of Arizona in 2017. His book, entitled "Food and Power: Agricultural Policy and Authoritarian Regime Durability", is based on his PhD Dissertation at the University of Minnesota, for which he won the 2015 Juan Linz Prize for best dissertation in comparative democratisation from the American Political Science Association. In Thomson's account, authoritarian governments intervene in agricultural markets to resolve distributional conflicts between farmers and food consumers and co-opt threatening groups into supporting their regime. By manipulating the price of farm produce and food, they respond to political threats posed by farmers and food consumers, and make significant contributions to regime stability. Contrary to previous accounts which emphasize the need for authoritarian regimes to provide cheap food for urban consumers, he argues that when farmers are a well-organized and powerful group, regimes mitigate the risk of political instability by increasing food and farm produce prices. What emerges from this study is a powerful revision of standard models of development and democratization. Not only are food and agricultural policies an unexplored source of authoritarian regime durability, but they have wide-reaching consequences for broader development outcomes and the chances for democratization.

Henry Thompson presented the main ideas from his book, followed by an expert comment from DIE agricultural economist and food security researcher Sarah Holzapfel and an open discussion.

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Event information

Date / h
17.11.2016 / 18:00 - 20:00


German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Tulpenfeld 6
53113 Bonn

-- Participation by invitation only. --

Im Fokus

The impact of cash transfers on food security in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence, design and implementation
Burchi, Francesco / Christoph Strupat (2016)
Briefing Paper 15/2016