The paper tests informational assumptions underlying strategic interaction and collective action models of government repression and dissent. Based on directly comparable data from 18 Central and East European countries collected between 1991 and 1996, this paper investigates whether citizens' perceptions of human rights conditions in a country are systematically related to that country's conditions of government repression. The analysis suggests that there is a significant relationship between negative evaluations of human rights conditions and levels of government repression. Moreover, it shows that political and economic conditions affect human rights evaluations, but that these relations do not lead to a weakening in the relationship between repressive conditions and public perceptions of human rights.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Hinman Symposium on Democratization and Human Rights, Binghamton University (SUNY), 25-26 September, 1998. We thank Ian Budge, Christian Davenport, Rick Hofferbert, Kathleen O'Connor, Steve Poe, Leonard Ray, and the symposium participants for their insightful comments on earlier drafts. We are indebted to Mark Gibney for sharing with us the repression data used in this research.
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