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Photo: “Vladimir Putin Speech at State Duma plenary session 2020-03-10 03“, by The Presidential Press and Information Office, licensed under CC BY 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Flonk, Daniëlle. “Emerging illiberal norms: Russia and China as promoters of internet content control.” International Affairs 97, no. 6 (2021): 1925-1944.


This article contributes to the understanding of authoritarian states as norm entrepreneurs of content control norms. These emerging norms challenge the norm literature, which disregards illiberal norms and illiberal actors as norm entrepreneurs. This article focuses on two distinct but coexisting strategies that Russia and China apply for promoting and developing internet governance norms. It shows that these countries use a combination of socialization and persuasion strategies. They employ a sequencing strategy of regional coalition-building in order to create support, after which they expand a norm’s range via international organizations. These norm entrepreneurs adapt their strategies to different target groups based on the degree of internalization of the norm. The article shows that a reassessment of norm theory in a broader context allows for extension to illiberal norms and illiberal actors, but also shows the limits since the applicability of strategies such as naming and shaming should be questioned.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.