Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia

64 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2015 Last revised: 7 Apr 2016

Ruben Enikolopov

Institute of Political Economy and Governance; ICREA; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; New Economic School; Barcelona GSE

Alexey Makarin

Northwestern University, Department of Economics, Students

Maria Petrova

Institute for Political Economy and Governance, Barcelona; Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats - ICREA; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE); New Economic School (NES)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 7, 2016

Abstract

Do new communication technologies, such as social media, reduce collective action problem? This paper provides evidence that penetration of VK, the dominant Russian online social network, affected protest activity during a wave of protests in Russia in 2011. As a source of exogenous variation in network penetration, we use information on the city of origin of the students who studied together with the founder of VK, controlling for the city of origin of the students who studied at the same university several years earlier or later. We find that a 10% increase in VK penetration increased the probability of a protest by 4.6%, and the number of protesters by 19%. Additional results suggest that social media has affected protest activity by reducing the costs of coordination, rather than by spreading information critical of the government. In particular, VK penetration increased pro-governmental support and reduced the number of people who were ready to participate in protests right before the protests took place. Also, cities with higher fractionalization of network users between VK and Facebook experienced fewer protests. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that municipalities with higher VK penetration received smaller transfers from the central government after the occurrence of protests.

Keywords: social media, political protests, collective action, impact of technology adoption

JEL Classification: D7, H0

Suggested Citation

Enikolopov, Ruben and Makarin, Alexey and Petrova, Maria, Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia (April 7, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2696236 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2696236

Ruben Enikolopov (Contact Author)

Institute of Political Economy and Governance ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

ICREA ( email )

Passeig Lluís Companys, 23
Barcelona, 08010
Spain

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

New Economic School ( email )

47 Nakhimovsky Prospekt
Moscow, 117418
Russia

Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

Alexey Makarin

Northwestern University, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

2001 Sheridan Rd
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/alexeymakarin/

Maria Petrova

New Economic School (NES) ( email )

47 Nakhimovsky Prospekt
Moscow, 117418
Russia

Institute for Political Economy and Governance, Barcelona ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats - ICREA ( email )

Passeig Lluís Companys, 23
Barcelona, 08010
Spain

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE) ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,018
Rank
16,911
Abstract Views
3,759