Social Groups and the Effectiveness of Protests

62 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2020 Last revised: 10 Feb 2021

See all articles by Marco Battaglini

Marco Battaglini

Cornell University

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Eleonora Patacchini

Cornell University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2020

Abstract

We present an informational theory of public protests, according to which public protests allow citizens to aggregate privately dispersed information and signal it to the policy maker. The model predicts that information sharing of signals within social groups can facilitate information aggregation when the social groups are sufficiently large even when it is not predicted with individual signals. We use experiments in the laboratory and on Amazon Mechanical Turk to test these predictions. We find that information sharing in social groups significantly affects citizens' protest decisions and as a consequence mitigates the effects of high conflict, leading to greater efficiency in policy makers' choices. Our experiments highlight that social media can play an important role in protests beyond simply a way in which citizens can coordinate their actions; and indeed that the information aggregation and the coordination motives behind public protests are intimately connected and cannot be conceptually separated.

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Suggested Citation

Battaglini, Marco and Morton, Rebecca and Patacchini, Eleonora, Social Groups and the Effectiveness of Protests (February 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26757, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3539324

Marco Battaglini (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-3706 (Phone)

Eleonora Patacchini

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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