The Elements of Protest: Combining Coordination, Cooperation, and Communication in the Lab

39 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2012  

Daniel P. Enemark

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Nicholas Weller

University of Southern California - Department of Political Science; University of Southern California - School of International Relations

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Enemark, Daniel P. and McCubbins, Mathew D. and Weller, Nicholas, The Elements of Protest: Combining Coordination, Cooperation, and Communication in the Lab (2012). Prepared for American Political Science Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2149638 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2149638

Daniel P. Enemark

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Nicholas Weller (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Political Science ( email )

Von KleinSmid Center, 327
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

University of Southern California - School of International Relations

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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