Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Emily Beaulieu Bacchus


This dissertation investigates the political causes and consequences of cultural censorship. One of the central arguments of this project is that cultural censorship is often a response to citizen demand. Using a mixed methods approach, this dissertation explores the demand for censorship and benefits a regime receives from censoring citizens in an effort to understand the calculus of cultural censorship. This project focuses on the Americas and looks at censorship in both democracies and autocracies across time. Leveraging high quality archival data, a survey experiment, and regional datasets, this project aims to understand the rationale behind cultural censorship and finds that both democracies and autocracies benefit from imposing limits to the freedom of expression. Additionally, preliminary findings suggest that citizens do not consume the media they are demanding be censored and are instead seeking censorship to protect third persons in an imperfect information environment. The experimental portion of this project tests this relationship of who wants censorship of what and why further and suggests that those with conservative ideologies are more likely to demand censorship to protect minors while liberals are more concerned about censoring hateful themes. The research I have completed for this project also finds that citizens in censored settings display lower levels of interpersonal trust and higher levels of institutional trust. Not only do these findings tell us something about how cultural censorship affects citizens and artists politically, but indicates that regimes, both democratic and authoritarian, are incentivized to fulfill citizen-demanded censorship in the interest of political survival.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)