Margarita Zavadskaya, junior fellow at the CCHPS took part in the III International workshop of the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, Higher School of Economics (Saint Petersburg) from the 26th to 28th of April.
The topic of the presentation: Protests under Non-Democratic Regimes: ‘Contingent’ Democrats Versus ‘Genuine’ Democrats. Exploring the Cross-National Variation at the Individual Level.
Much ink has been spilled over on elaborating the explanations why and how people mobilize against the authoritarian rule. The explanation ranges from class-based theories with the leading role of either middle or working class to the rational choice theories emphasizing the role of “information cascades” and “critical mass” of participants in overcoming the problem of collective action. However, the ideal participant is viewed as “contingent democrats” or those actions are primarily driven by self-interest. In the first case people would protest only when they the current regime does not meet their economic expectations, in the second case they are afraid of repression and wait until the costs of participation will decrease. I argue that the theory of emancipative values may be extended in explaining the protest mobilization patterns even under non-democratic conditions. In the previous research I have demonstrated the macro-effect of emancipative values on anti-incumbent pre-electoral mobilization, as well as the probability of post-electoral protests. In this paper I show that in most of authoritarian countries those sharing emancipative values to the greater extent tend to take part in peaceful forms of protest and that its size varies across countries. Meanwhile alternative macro-economic explanations do not show such robust and significant effect.