Antoine Zerbini

Antoine Zerbini

PhD Candidate

Department of Government

Connect with me

English, French
Key Expertise
Censorship, Media, Technologies, Non Democratic Authoritarian, Purges

About me

I am a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

I am on the job market in the Fall of 2023.

My main research agenda examines modern strategies of top-down accountability in non-democratic settings. I explore how authoritarian leaders leverage technological change and differences in political preferences across citizens to entrench their regime via the control of information flows, the production of entertainment or the use of violence.

In a second research agenda, I consider which institutions of horizontal accountability, such as lobbying transparency or the media landscape, are most conducive to vertical accountability.

Research interests: Non Democratic Politics | Formal Theory | Modern Technologies | Media

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Essays in Informational Political Economy

Job market paper

Segment-and-Rule: Modern Censorship in Authoritarian Regimes

The internet grants citizens with the ability to choose which media outlets to consume. This access to foreign independent outlets risks exposing citizens to negative information about the authoritarian regime. In response to this novel threat, authoritarian regimes introduced censorship firewalls which seem to fail at their task: millions bypass these restrictions everyday. We contend that the regime deliberately aims for a specific segment of the population to self-select into bypassing the firewall: regime opponents. By bypassing the firewall, opponents are occasionally convinced to comply after seeing positive and credible reporting about the regime by banned foreign outlets. The firewall ensures that regime supporters exclusively consume content from domestic outlets and so their compliance is secured via regime propaganda. We label this strategy one of segment-and-rule and show how it maximizes compliance. We also explain how authoritarian regimes can engineer segment-and-rule by making local outlets parrot the party line, investing in domestic entertainment or strategically banning foreign entertainment. By providing citizens with more choice, the internet may have entrenched authoritarian regimes. 

Selected publications

[working paper] “The Case for Lobbying Transparency”

Teaching record

  • GV225: Public Choice and Politics
  • EC260: The Political Economy of Public Policy