The Internet as a Factor of Participation in Protests: Cross Country Analysis
Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg
In the last ten years the role of the Internet in the citizens mobilisation has been widely discussed in the academic community (Castells, 2012). In particular, some studies have shown that protesters in Northern African and Middle East countries have been using social networks for coordination and information exchange (Breuer, 2012). Others have demonstrated that, using Facebook or Twitter, citizens created groups where they posted news, calls, announcements and other items concerning protests (Gaffney, 2009, Allagui, 2011).
The start for this rapidly growing research interest was given by the ‘Arab Spring’ that was followed by a whole stream of papers about protests in Chile, Iran, Belgium, Spain and the Arab countries themselves (Lotan, 2011, González-Bailón, 2013), which indicates the importance of the subject (Howard, 2010). However, most of these papers are case studies or they compare no more than a few countries from the same region, while demonstrations emerging in many other countries remain unwitnessed (Wolfsfeld, 2012) and cross-country comparisons stay underdeveloped. Case study or regional approaches do not allow for singling out the influence of the Internet on protests from among influences of other social or political factors. In this paper, we perform a cross-country analysis that establishes relationship between individual use of internet as a news source and protest participation controlled for other variables. To evaluate the general significance of the Internet in comparison with other predictors most reliably, it has to be checked if the proportion of protestors was less before massive internet penetration. However, this question will be addressed in our further research, while here we focus on the contemporary situation.
FULL VERSION The Impact of the Internet as a Factor of Participation in Protests: Cross Country Analysis