How Civil Resistance Improves Inclusive Democracy
With Subindra Bogati, Titik Firawati, and Ches Thurber
Nonviolent resistance campaigns have a robust positive effect on future levels of democracy. Yet this well-tested empirical relationship has been primarily based on measures of liberal or electoral aspects of democracy such as fair elections, freedom of expression, and rule of law. The impact of civil resistance campaigns on egalitarian democracy, particularly the inclusion in state power and resources of historically excluded groups, has been less examined. This paper examines the relationship between civil resistance and advances in gender, class, and ethnic inclusion in the aftermath of political transitions. Using cross-national data on egalitarianism and exclusion from the Varieties of Democracy project, we find that civil resistance transitions (CRTs) produce gains in inclusion along all three of these dimensions greater than those observed in non-civil resistance transitions. Furthermore, we find some evidence that participation by women and by excluded ethnic groups in the civil resistance campaign may be crucial to the realization of advances in inclusion.
With Matthew Cebul
This pre-analysis plan describes the hypothesis, research design, and sampling procedures for two survey experiments that explore how the presence of nonviolent alternatives affects individual support for violent extremist organizations (VEOs). The first experiment tests whether respondent support for VEOs decreases in the presence of an alternative, nonviolent campaign, and whether this effect depends on the government’s repressive behavior. The second experiment considers whether this substitution effect can be enhanced by emphasizing particular psychological motivations for participation in nonviolent resistance. The experiments build on studies demonstrating that individuals participate in VEOs to satisfy emotional and psychological needs. If these needs can be satisfied by participation in nonviolent mobilization, then nonviolent action may serve as a substitute for violent extremism.
The Women’s March on Washington and its over 600 “sister marches” were likely the single largest day of protest in American history, and were followed by a wave of political organizing that re-invigorated progressive politics after the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Yet to what degree can we attribute the emergence of this Anti-Trump “Resistance” to the Women’s Marches themselves? Do public protests such as the Women’s March truly change political outcomes or do they simply reflect underlying public opinion? There is a growing literature arguing that protest has important effects independent of its endogenous relationship to public opinion. In this paper, I test this argument on the scale of the Women’s March. I instrument Women’s March participation using rainfall data from the day of the march and measure the effects of instrumented march size on two dependent variables: the creation of “Indivisible” groups, and the shift towards Democratic congressional candidates in the 2018 elections. I find that the instrumented size of Women’s March protests significantly increased both dependent variables. These findings provide strong evidence that the Women’s Marches were a significant transformative event in American politics, with real political consequences, and speak to the power of peaceful protest as a social movement tactic.