A study of perceived protest atmospheres: how demonstrators evaluate police-demonstrator interaction and why

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Abstract

Using a multilevel dataset of seventy-five European street demonstrations (2009-13), we assess how demonstrators evaluate the interactions between the police and other demonstrators. In doing so, we study demonstrators' perceptions of the protest atmosphere. Understanding these atmosphere assessments is relevant, as demonstrators and other protest actors (e.g., police and the media) widely refer to the atmosphere (i.e., mood or climate) of protest events. To the best of our knowledge, scholars have not yet studied this aspect of protest participation. We start our study with a conceptualization and operationalization of protest atmosphere. Subsequently, we assess how demonstrators perceive atmosphere. Our analyses reveal that four types of protest atmospheres can be distinguished: harmonious, volatile, tense, and chaotic. We describe examples of these atmospheres and study why they are perceived. We find that the perception of atmosphere by demonstrators is influenced by individual characteristics (e.g., age) and demonstration characteristics (e.g., police repression).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-100
Number of pages20
JournalMobilization
Volume20
Issue number1
Early online date9 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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