Voicing Discontent: Communication Technology and Protest
1 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014 08,
The Internet and mobile phones have rapidly spread around the world in the last decade. Today many citizens, including those in the poorest countries, have access to cell phones. What is the impact of this new technology on political protest? In this paper, we take a first step at investigating how cell phones affect the organization of political protest across different regimes. We argue that mobile phones increase the ability of citizens to protest around the world, however, this effect is stronger in authoritarian regimes. We empirically investigate our argument on three distinct sets of data: two cross-national time-series datasets and one subnational panel. Across all models, we find robust evidence for a positive effect of access to cell phones on political protest counts, with stronger effects in non-democratic regimes.
Keywords: cell phones, communication, collective action, protest
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