This chapter sets out the theoretical and empirical context for the study of the international politics of authoritarian rule. It situates the book within the existing literature on authoritarianism, and highlights the ways in which the book will make an original contribution by clearly distinguishing different types of international influence and the different causal mechanisms through which they operate. It sets out the core arguments of the book, including the contention that external autocratic sponsorship can lower the perceived and real costs of authoritarian behaviour, and can thus help authoritarian elites overcome the central challenges of authoritarian survival. The chapter also outlines the methodological approach to be taken, and discusses the key concepts, cases, and sources to be used in the study.
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