Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Peter Funke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rachel May, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Earl Conteh-Morgan


Contentious Politics, Democracy, South Asia, Civil Society


This dissertation extends scholarship on the role of social movements against authoritarian regimes. It argues that movements turn into popular mobilizations and achieve successful outcomes when they occur in the consolidated phases of authoritarian regimes. Using the political opportunity structure framework, the dissertation maintains that a regime’s stability instils confidence in it to substitute coercion with incentives wherein it allows limited but strictly regulated freedoms for oppositional politics. This creates new openings for the challengers, enabling mobilization with an increase in size and scope. Unlike the initial phase, when the regime is consolidating and repressing collective action in a ruthless manner, the consolidated phase is a period in which the movements make the most of opportunities available that lead to their success. The dissertation explores it empirically by discussing three social movements against authoritarian regimes in Pakistan that took place in different moments of the country’s history: Student Movement, Movement for Restoration of Democracy, and Lawyers Movement.