Friends in high places. Anger and frustration among protesters when their political allies fail them

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Scholars working from the political opportunity approach have upheld the notion that the political context sets the grievances around which activist mobilizes. Inspired by Tarrow and colleagues plea to explain political activism by analyzing how activists are mobilized, this article focuses on the individual protester. The research question in this article reads how are activist’s protest emotions shaped by characteristics of the political context, specifically by their political alliances? We focus on the emotional constellation evoked by environmental issues (e.g., climate change and nuclear energy) with Green Parties as movement allies and anti-austerity issues with Social Democratic parties as movement allies. Specifically, the parliamentary position of these allies is linked to the relative stake anger and frustration have within the emotional constellation of demonstrators. Results are based on survey data collected among 6,598 demonstrators, and their emotions dispersed over 28 demonstrations in seven European countries. We conclude that having a politically well-connected friend seems to matter more to demonstrators’ emotional constellation than the ideological support provided by that friend.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-479
Number of pages25
JournalHumanity & Society
Issue number4
Early online date7 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


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