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Dr. Johannes Gerschewski


Theory Network, Freie Universität Berlin and WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Postdoctoral Researcher, Academic Coordinator Theory Network

Edwin-Redslob-Straße 29
Room 2OG-09
14195 Berlin

Johannes works at the intersection of Comparative Politics and Political Theory. He is particularly interested in questions of regime legitimacy, comparative democratization, democratic and autocratic theory, as well as political ideologies.

In 2014, he received a PhD from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (“summa cum laude”). Johannes studied Political Science, Philosophy and Economics at the Universities of Passau, Seoul, and FU Berlin. Before joining SCRIPTS, he worked as a pre- and postdoctoral fellow at the Berlin Social Science Research Center (WZB) and taught at HU Berlin and Technical University of Munich. He was a visiting fellow at University of Oxford and Harvard University.

Research Interests:

  • Democratic and Autocratic Theory

  • Comparative Democratization

  • Regime Legitimacy

  • Political Ideologies

  • Liberal Political Thought

  • Research Methodology

Current Projects at SCRIPTS:

At SCRIPTS, Johannes works as the Academic Coordinator of the Theory Network. The Theory Network reflects the plurivocality of the Cluster and serves as a bridge between different epistemological approaches and theoretical traditions. In this light, Johannes aims at facilitating theoretical exchange and the integration of a diverse set of empirical insights.

Johannes is currently working on a book project on an empirically grounded theory on the evolution, the variants, and the contestions of liberal political thought.


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

Journal Articles

Volpi, Frédéric /Gerschewski, Johannes (forthcoming): "Crises and Critical Junctures in Authoritarian Regimes: Addressing Uprisings' Temporalities and Discontinuities" In: Third World Quarterly.

Gerschewski, Johannes (forthcoming): "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.

Neundorf, Anja/Gerschewski, Johannes/Olar, Roman-Gabriel (2019): "How Do Inclusionary and Exclusionary Autocracies Affect Ordinary People?" In: Comparative Political Studies (online first)

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.

Dukalskis, Alexander/ Gerschewski Johannes (2018): "Adapting or Freezing? Ideological Reactions of Communist Regimes in a Post-Communist World." In: Government & Opposition (online first).

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 of Contemporary Politics]

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. DOI: 10.1080/13510347.2013.738860 [Recipient of the Frank Cass 2013 Award for Best Article by a Young Scholar; #1 of most cited articles of "Democratization"]

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

SCRIPTS Working Paper

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”