The Elements of Protest: Combining Coordination, Cooperation, and Communication in the Lab
39 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
Collective political action, such as protests, riots or social movements, requires the resolution of both cooperation and coordination problems. Solutions to these problems are widely seen to depend on the network that connects individuals to each other, because this network is a way for individuals to learn about the actions of others and decide if they want to participate. Although there is a general sense that networks and communication are important for collective political action there is little research exploring the relationship between network structure and group behavior. We address that gap in the literature by utilizing an experimental approach that combines both coordination and cooperation in a networked setting. We find that there are considerable differences in collective behavior based on the network structure that connects individuals. In particular, we find in our experiments that more connections in a network and the presence of highly connected nodes can both facilitate solutions to collective problems. This suggests that in building networks it would be useful to either build many connections or create recognizable leaders that can facilitate coordination.
Keywords: collective action, experiments, networks, communication, coordination
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