ECRP IV Highlights - 08-ECRP-001

08-ECRP-001 Caught in the Act of Protest: Contextualizing Contestation (CCC)

The research project ‘Caught in the act of protesting: Contextualizing Contestation’ (CCC) started in November 2009. It aimed to understand better who is taking part in protest, how people are mobilised and why they take part. The project focused on street demonstrations as the most common form of protest. Six national teams secured funding from their national funding bodies to take part in the project. The project started with Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Later Italian and Mexican teams managed to finance their own project and joined the collaborative effort. The most recent addition to the team is a group of researchers from Czech Republic. Between the initial six countries it was agreed to collect data on 8-12 street demonstrations by summer 2012. All six countries managed to do so. For each demonstration interviews were conducted with the organisers and the police before and after the demonstration; field notes were made by the fieldworkers, and participants were interviewed at the demonstration and filled in questionnaires that were mailed to the university. Newspaper coverage of the demonstrations was registered and analysed. Contextual socio-political data was gathered for all involved countries. We developed a data-entry portal and website.

Crucial for a project like this is standardisation of measures and procedures. It is essential that sampling procedures, questionnaires aimed at the organisers, the police and the participants, and fact sheets regarding the demonstration are identical. All this was applied in the first few demonstrations and evaluated in a dedicated meeting of the team. On the basis of the first experiences, procedures were adapted and questionnaires were amended where needed, but on the whole the procedures and questionnaires agreed upon fared well. As a result of this we crafted a manual with detailed descriptions of all questionnaires and procedures, which can be used every time a demonstration is to be covered. The manual is on request available for other researchers.

At the time of writing of this final report we have collected data on 70 street demonstration and approx. 15,000 participants. In addition, six demonstrations were covered in Italy and three in Mexico. The Czech team covered its first demonstration in August. One third of the covered demonstrations consisted of ritual parades, one third demonstrations against austerity measures, and one third demonstrations regarding a variety of socio-cultural issues ranging from anti-nuclear energy, anti-racism, to anti-abortion and pro-democracy. We think that we have collected a unique dataset that can help to answer research questions that were unanswerable so far. The various teams are now analysing the data addressing a variety of themes: emotions, culture, policing, social embeddedness, the coding and impact of social class, the role of values, and the role of ICT and social media.

All the data are centrally stored at the University of Antwerp in a password-protected environment. The data can be accessed from any location in the world.

The first major publication—a special issue of Mobilization the main scientific journal in the field—will be published in September 2012.

Project website: 

Project Leader

Free University of AmsterdamFaculty of Social SciencesDepartment of SociologyAmsterdamNetherlands

Principal Investigators

Stefaan A. J.WalgraveE-Mail
University of AntwerpDepartment of Political ScienceResearch Group Media, Movements and Politics (M2P)AntwerpBelgium
José ManuelSabucedo CameselleE-Mail
Universidade de Santiago de CompostelaFacultade de PsicoloxíaDepartamento de Psicoloxía Social, Básica e MetodoloxíaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
Göteborg UniversityFaculty of Social ScienceDepartment of SociologyGöteborgSweden
University of GenevaDépartement de science politique et relations internationalesLaboratoire de recherches sociales et politiques appliqués (resop)GenèveSwitzerland
Christopher A.RootesE-Mail
University of KentFaculty of Social SciencesSchool of Social Policy, Sociology and Social ResearchCentre for the Study of Social and Political MovementsCanterburyUnited Kingdom