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Palgrave Macmillan

Strategies of Authoritarian Survival and Dissensus in Southeast Asia

Weak Men Versus Strongmen

  • Book
  • © 2021


  • Considers regime change as an important pathway towards democracy and development in Southeast Asia
  • Examines how political durability, especially the ability to remain in power, affects resistance movements
  • Analyses how social movements succeed or fail including those of peasant and indigenous communities

Part of the book series: Palgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies (PSAPS)

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About this book

This book analyses how authoritarian rulers of Southeast Asian countries maintain their durability in office, and, in this context, explains why some movements of civil society organizations succeed while others fail to achieve their demands. It discusses the relationship between the state-society-business in the political survival context. As the first comparative analysis of strategies of regime survival across Southeast Asia, this book also provides an in-depth insight into the various opposition movements, and the behaviour of antagonistic civic and political actors in the region.


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Table of contents (8 chapters)


“Drawing on dozens of interviews and government documents, the book not only chronicles but also compares two land struggles in different provinces of Cambodia … . Strategies of Authoritarian Survival and Dissensus in Southeast Asia reaffirms the value of comparative political economy, an approach to the study of the region which has declined in prominence since the turn of the twenty-first century and deserves renewed promotion today.” (John Sidel, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 96 (1), March, 2023) “This book is a valuable contribution to the literature on authoritarian persistence and its relation to popular opposition and protest. With its unique comparative analysis of regimes across Southeast Asia, this book uncovers important empirical information about political leadership and state-society relations in countries that have received relatively little attention in the scholarly literature, while simultaneously providing new theoretical insights of interest to scholars, practitioners, and the general public alike.”

Teresa Wright, Chair and Professor, California State University Long Beach, USA


“This book offers excellent insights into complex political developments and regime durability in Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Not only does the book make a contribution to the academic fields of comparative politics, political economy, and social movements, it is also well-written and accessible to anyone interested in Southeast Asian politics.”

Sorpong Peou, Professor, Ryerson University, Canada


“In this fascinating and timey intervention, Sokphea Young takes stock of the region's political landscape in a sobering account of the difficult path ahead. Insightful, engaging, and an urgent appeal for political change at a moment when Southeast Asia is quickly rising in global strategic and economic importance.”

Simon Springer, Professor, University of Newcastle, Australia


“Why do some civil society organizations fail and others succeed in authoritarian settings? In a comparison of two episodes of contention over land in Cambodia, one in which subaltern groups succeeded in achieving their objectives and another in which they failed, Young convincingly demonstrates that it is not the specific tactics adopted by each of these groups that explains the different outcomes but the embeddedness of the economic actorsappropriating the land in the patronage network that sustains the Hun Sen regime. Young persuasively shows the portability of this theory in chapters on Malaysia and Suharto’s Indonesia. By connecting the literatures on contentious politics and regime durability, Young sheds new light on why authoritarian regimes respond differently to the demands of similar civil society organizations.”

Teri Caraway, Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota, USA

Authors and Affiliations

  • University College London, London, UK

    Sokphea Young

About the author

Sokphea Young is a postdoctoral researcher at the University College London, UK. His research is published, variously, in Journal of International Relations and Development, Journal of Civil Society, Asian Politics and Policy, Asian Journal of Social Science, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, the Chinese Journal of Comparative Law and South East Asia Research.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Strategies of Authoritarian Survival and Dissensus in Southeast Asia

  • Book Subtitle: Weak Men Versus Strongmen

  • Authors: Sokphea Young

  • Series Title: Palgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-33-6111-9Published: 02 July 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-33-6114-0Published: 03 July 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-33-6112-6Published: 01 July 2021

  • Series ISSN: 2662-7922

  • Series E-ISSN: 2662-7930

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXI, 240

  • Number of Illustrations: 9 b/w illustrations, 9 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Political Sociology, Asian Politics, Development and Social Change

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