Why and How Authoritarian Regimes Produce Narratives of Governance: Discourse and Policy Narratives in Libya (2003-2010)
Buera, Anas Abubakr Mustafa
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to place an embargo on my thesis to be made universally accessible via ORE, the online institutional repository, for a standard period of 18 months because I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
This thesis starts from a basic intellectual curiosity: why would an authoritarian regime care about the ‘governance change’? What would governance possibly mean for a regime heavily sanctioned by the United Nations? And assuming that an authoritarian leader is forced to accept some notions of ‘improving on governance’; what specific dimensions of governance would be targeted for reform? How would they be ‘narrated’ to the domestic and international audience? The main purpose of this thesis is to explore the communication of policy change in authoritarian regimes through a new lens on the policy process. This original lens is based on the combination of discursive institutionalism and the narrative policy framework. At the outset, we argue that authoritarian regimes are interested in ‘good governance’ as defined by international organizations, but very selectively and with strategic intentions connected to the different internal audiences and international audience costs. We also argue that these regimes use narratives to support their strategic intentions and that their discourse is contingent on the institutional context – which shapes coordinative and communicative elements of policy discourse. Theoretically, our aim is to integrate Discursive Institutionalism and the Narrative Policy Framework, and apply them to authoritarian regimes. To do this, we use an exploratory case study (Libya, 2003-2010) and formulate explicit expectations about discourse, narratives and institutions. We test the expectations by coding a coherent corpus of documents with appropriate software, N-VIVO. Essentially, we draw on discursive institutionalism as macro template to explain the two functions of discourse (coordinative and communicative) in its institutional context, and the narrative policy framework to explain the specific forms in which discourse is cast. Empirically, the thesis provides an analysis of coordinative and communicative discourse based on systematic coding of policy stories, causal plots, identities of the narrators, and the discursive construction of economic policy reforms in the domains of privatization, regulatory reform, and economic liberalization. There are two elements of originality in the thesis. First, the thesis contributes to the integration of two approaches to empirical discourse analysis that have not communicated between them. Second, this is the first study to push discursive institutionalism outside the territory of advanced democracies-as such, it re-defines some arguments in light of the specific features of authoritarian regimes and developing countries by using Libya as exploratory case study. The findings have their own empirical value for the period considered and for the narrative policy framework, but they also shed light on some elements of the current transition in Libya, at a time when Libya is under pressure to deliver on economic reform in the context of fragile democratic institutions and a complex, uncertain regime transition. The dissertation contributes to the literature as the discursive institutionalism and the narrative policy frameworks travel well to authoritarian regimes. Also our frameworks provide insights on how authoritarian regimes are different from traditional democracies. Finally, the thesis points to certain limitations and caveats, it suggests the need for further research agenda of the integrated DI and NPF frameworks in MENA region, Arab states and the third world, moving from explorative findings to building cumulative evidence in the field.
PhD in Politics