Climate of Opinion as a Driver of Collective Action: Evidence From the 2011 Israeli Social Protest Movement
49 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2019
Date Written: October 1, 2018
What drives mass mobilization? A substantial body of theoretical work in diverse fields, including political science, communications, sociology, and economics, is built around the idea that an individual’s willingness to participate in a mobilization is driven by her beliefs about public opinion – that is, about what the majority of the public thinks. Despite the centrality of this idea, rigorous empirical evidence is scarce. We test this idea using original data collected during and after the massive street protests in Israel in the summer of 2011. Our analysis shows that individual beliefs about average societal support for the protest movement (i.e., the “climate of opinion”) are indeed a strong predictor of participation. Experimental manipulation of information about the trend in societal support for the protests further suggests that this relationship is causal, and that it is mediated by expectations about how many people are likely to show up to protest.
Keywords: mass mobilization, protests, public opinion, climate of opinion, collective action, Israel social justice movement
JEL Classification: H19, H49, H89, Z19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation