Social Image, Networks, and Protest Participation
55 Pages Posted: 24 May 2018
Date Written: March 24, 2017
Social motivation plays an important role in electoral participation, political contributions, and charitable donations. We examine the role of social image concerns in the decision to participate in political protests. We develop a dynamic model of protest participation, where socially-minded individuals use protest participation to signal their type to the peers. We test predictions of the model using individual and city-level data from 2011-2012 political protests in Russia. We report several findings. First, list experiment results imply that social signaling motives indeed were important for the decision to participate in protests. Second, consistent with the model, protest participation was declining over time. Third, participation in online protest groups increased offline protest participation. Fourth, participation in protests was higher in cities with higher social capital. Finally, the importance of both online social networks and offline social capital for protest participation diminished over time, consistent with predictions of the model.
Keywords: social pressure, political participation, protests, social image, online social media, new technologies
JEL Classification: D72, C31
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