Protest Behavior in European Societies: The Role of Individual Incentives and the Political Context

Hanna Bäck, Bengü Dayican

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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    Empirical research has provided different explanations for political protest. Yet, from a cost-benefit perspective the motivation for protest behavior still remains unclear. Why do people engage in protest activities, even though participation is costly and collective outcomes are available to everybody? This paper aims to provide an explanation for this paradox by analyzing which individual-level incentives foster protest participation, and by considering the specific political context in which protest activities take place. We rely mainly upon the European Social Survey (ESS) data from 2002–2003, which covers a large number of countries, and includes important items for measuring political protest. The findings suggest that both individual-level incentives and contextual features are crucial to take into account when explaining protest activity. More specifically, we find that collective and selective incentives motivate protest in most European countries, and that protest levels are higher in systems with proportional representation, in less fractionalized systems and in more polarized systems. Looking at interactions between contextual and individual-level factors, we find that people are less likely to be driven to protest by collective incentives in countries where left parties are in the cabinet.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages43
    Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2008
    EventPoliticologenetmaal 2008: Dutch/Flemish Political Science Association Conference - Conferentiehotel Golden Tulip Val Monte, Berg en Dal, Netherlands
    Duration: 29 May 200830 May 2008


    ConferencePoliticologenetmaal 2008
    CityBerg en Dal


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