Dr. Johannes Gerschewski

David Ausserhofer


johannes.gerschewski [at] wzb.eu
Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin
B 317
Research Fellow of the Research Department

Research fields

Political Regimes | Democratic and Autocratic Theory | Legitimacy of Political Orders | Political Ideologies


since 10/2023
Interim professor in Political Theory and History of Ideas, Leibniz University Hannover

since 06/2019
Research Fellow at Global Governance Unit, WZB; Academic Coordinator of Theory Network, Cluster of Excellence "Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)", Freie Universität Berlin

Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship, European University Institute (EUI), Florence

Lecturer at Hochschule für Politik, Technical University Munich

Lecturer at Institute for Social Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Research Fellow at the Democracy and Democratization Unit, WZB; 2014-2016 co-head of DFG-funded project "Critical Junctures and the Survival of Dictatorships"

Guest researcher, Transatlantic Program, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA), Harvard University

2008-2014 PhD; Dissertation on "Stabilizing Autocratic Rule. Legitimation, Repression, and Co-optation in East Asia's Autocracies", Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin ("summa cum laude")
"Gero Erdmann-Award for Comparative Area Studies", awarded by Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft and Democracy Research Section of the German Political Science Association for best dissertattion in 2013 and 2014

since 2014 member of the scholar network External Democracy Promotion (EDP), funded by the Senate of the Leibniz Association

10/2011-12/2011 Visiting PhD candidate at University of Oxford, Department of Politics and International Relations

since 2011 Co-founder of Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences; in the following years co-organizer, moderator and lecturer

2001/2002-2008 Studies in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics (Magister Artium) as well as International Business and Cultural Studies (Diplom) at University of Passau, Freie Universität Berlin and Yonsei University, Seoul

Selected Publications


Gerschewski, Johannes (2023): The Two Logics of Autocratic Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boussalis, Constantine/Dukalskis, Alexander/Gerschewski, Johannes (2023): "Why It Matters What Autocrats Say: Assessing Competing Theories of Propaganda." In: Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 70, No. 3, pp.241-253.


Gerschewski, Johannes (2021): "Explanations of Institutional Change. Reflecting on a 'Missing Diagonal.'" In: American Political Science Review, Vol. 115, No. 1, pp.218-233.

Gerschewski, Johannes (2021): "Erosion or Decay? Conceptualizing Causes and Mechanisms of Democratic Regression." In: Democratization, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp.43-62.

Tannenberg, Marcus/Bernhard, Michael/Gerschewski, Johannes/Lührmann, Anna/von Soest, Christian (2021): "Claiming the Right to Rule: Regime Legitimation Strategies from 1900 to 2019." In: European Political Science Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.77-94.

Zürn, Michael/Gerschewski, Johannes (2021): "Sketching the Liberal Script. A Target of Contestations." SCRIPTS Working Paper No. 10, Berlin: Cluster of Excellence 2055 “Contestations of the Liberal Script – SCRIPTS”


Gerschewski, Johannes (2020): "Persistenz - Kontinuität - Adaptivität: Konzeptionen politischer Stabilität in der Vergleichenden Autokratieforschung." In: Leviathan. Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, Sonderband 36, pp.21-38.

Neundorf, Anja/Gerschewski, Johannes/Olar, Roman-Gabriel (2020): "How Do Inclusionary and Exclusionary Autocracies Affect Ordinary People?" In: Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 53, No. 12, pp.1890-1925.

Volpi, Frédéric/Gerschewski, Johannes (2020): "Crises and Critical Junctures in Authoritarian Regimes: Addressing Uprisings' Temporalities and Discontinuities." In: Third World Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 6, pp.1030-1045.

Gerschewski, Johannes (2020): "Governing Markets in Autocratic Regimes." In: Abbott, Kenneth W./Zangl, Bernhard/Snidal, Duncan/Genschel, Philipp (Eds.): The Governor's Dilemma. Indirect Governance Beyond Principals and Agents. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.239-256.

Dukalskis, Alexander/Gerschewski Johannes (2020): "Adapting or Freezing? Ideological Reactions of Communist Regimes in a Post-Communist World." In: Government & Opposition, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp.511-532.


Merkel, Wolfgang/Gerschewski, Johannes (2019): "Democratic Transformation after the Second World War." In: Kollmorgen, Raj/Merkel, Wolfgang/Wagener, Hans-Jürgen (Eds.): Oxford Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.280-292.


Gerschewski, Johannes (2018): "Legitimacy in Autocracies. Oxymoron or Essential Feature?" In: Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.652-665.

Thyen, Kressen/Gerschewski, Johannes (2018): "Legitimacy and Protest under Authoritarianism. Explaining Student Mobilization in Egypt and Morocco during the Arab Uprisings." In: Democratization, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp.38-57.

Gerschewski, Johannes/Stefes, Christoph H., eds (2018): Crisis in Autocratic Regimes. Boulder: Lynne Rienner [2019 also as paperback].


Dukalskis, Alexander/Gerschewski, Johannes (2017): "What autocracies say (and what citizens hear). Proposing four mechanisms of autocratic legitimation." In: Contemporary Politics, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 251-268. [Guest editors of special issue; most cited article of "Contemporary Politics" in last three years]


Gerschewski, Johannes (2013): "The Three Pillars of Stability: Legitimation, Repression, and Co-optation in Autocratic Regimes". In: Democratization, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.13-38.  [Recipient of the Frank Cass 2013 Award for Best Article by a Young Scholar]


Gerschewski, Johannes/Merkel, Wolfgang/Schmotz, Alexander/Stefes, Christoph H./Tanneberg, Dag (2012), Warum überleben Diktaturen?, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Sonderheft 47, pp.106-131.